HUNDREDS of New Year’s Eve revellers will carry glow sticks instead of burning torches up Frodsham Hill this year because of health and safety concerns.
Frodsham Town Council, which organises the event, will hand out the sticks to 200 residents expected to take part in the fireworks display and procession on December 31.
The decision is partly for safety reasons, but also as traditional flames proved impossible to light in last year’s storms.
However, town councillor Andrew Dawson, a health and safety lawyer, is questioning whether enough safety measures have been taken.
He suggested more volunteer marshals are needed to marshal the crowd along the main road from St Laurence’s Parish Church to the hilltop Memorial Field.
He added it is the council’s duty to ensure site safety for the fireworks display and, generally, more work is needed to establish a “suitable” health and safety policy to comply with national guidelines for organisers of public events.
Referring to the guidelines, Cllr Brian Lloyd, said: “Cllr Dawson goes too far. Perhaps we should abandon the event altogether? It’s impossible to make every public event perfectly safe, but on the basis of what is reasonably safe, we could go ahead.”
Cllr Christine Lloyd said: “If we’ve got to go along with all these complicated things, I don’t think it’s worth it. But it’s the most pleasant family event you could hope to go to and I don’t think someone who has never taken part before can judge what it’s like. As far as I’m aware, there’s never been a problem.”
The procession organiser, Cllr Graham Bondi, said: “An excellent risk assessment has been completed. It’s not rocket science, it’s a question of balance and I think we have enough marshals to manage the event quite well.”
Cllr Dawson said he didn’t know the procession was led by a police escort and followed by a St John Ambulance vehicle, and that police officers helped to control the road junctions along the route.
However, he insisted: “I’m just advocating a suitably sufficient risk assessment, which is what every other business and authority has to go through, and it’s only by getting people to join in this debate that we are going to get these things sorted out.”