Health and safety ruins May Week tradition

Adam Clark – News Reporter 27 June 2012

The dreaded forces of health and safety appeared to have struck again on Tuesday as spectators hoping to watch St John’s May Ball fireworks from Castle Hill were turned away. Viewers were told that the hill was at full ‘capacity’, apparently by four police officers.

Over a hundred people, including students and residents, some with young children, had gathered at Castle Hill to watch the show, with the riverbanks already crowded. However after around 10.30pm officials in high visibility jackets began to turn people away as the top of the hill filled up.

Talking to Cambridge News, resident Richard Naisby labelled it a “grossly inappropriate use of police resources”, noting he had been turned away when there was plenty of space on the hill and that it was a Cambridge tradition being put at risk.

Second-year Pembroke student Phin Adams, who was watching the fireworks from Cambridge’s only noticeable slope commented: “I can appreciate that there may have been some accidents had students tried to sit on some of the steep parts of the hill, but this was hardly Mount Everest.”

“It did make me chuckle when I saw them using high powered torches to search the undergrowth for students creeping past their official barricade at the foot of the hill.”

The same officials then supervised the mass exodus from the hill.

However when contacted for comment the Cambridgeshire Police noted that they “had no record of any police at the event” and questioned whether any police resources had been involved at all. TCS now understands that health and safety and event stewarding are governed by the local council and Health and Safety Executive rather than police authorities. Thus it seems that Tuesday’s debacle was the fault of the often-maligned ‘health and safety police’ rather than Cambridgeshire Constabulary.

Adam Clark – News Reporter