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Abolish the HSE and bring in localism for health and safety

The Cabinet Office's Red Tape Challenge website allows the public to nominate regulations they would like to scrap.

There are plenty of good examples - but the number the Government has done anything about is rather more modest.

For example Andrew McKnight says:

The charity I work for runs a community centre. We have 3 full time staff and a number of volunteers. We have recently been told that, in order to advertise public events that we put on for the local
community (e.g monthly film club, performances by community drama groups) we have to have a premises licence. This has involved considerable time and expense: £150 to place a press ad informing the general public that we are applying for a licence; the completion of a lengthy form; 4 visits from our local council’s licensing team (1 x fire safety visit, 2 x noise visits, 1 x general licensing matters visit); significant neighbourhood liaison; and attendance at an evening Council meeting when our application will be heard. We don’t sell alcohol and don’t want to. No event runs later than 10pm and our maximum capacity is probably about 60. Around 20-30 people attend our film club. We have no intention of turning our community centre into an entertainment venue. But we do want to be able to support the community to come together, to socialise and enjoy new experiences. The process we have had to go through seems out of proportion with what we want to do.

The difficulty is not just the modest progress made in repealing regulations but the way the rules are implemented. The failure to abolish the Health and Safety Executive means that David Cameron's sentiments about wishing to curb the burden of bureaucracy in general, and health and safty excesses in particular, cannot be taken seriously.

True the HSE's budget has been cut from £203 million to £175 million. That should be good news. However their response to reduced funding from the taxpayer has been to bring in charges of £256 an hour for their "advice." So the more they meddle, the more money they make. Why send one letter when two will do? Why keep a visit down to an hour when you can string it out for two hours?

This is an absolute scandal. Did the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith agree to these charges? Or is the HSE completely out of control?  The HSE should be abolished and its responsibilities transfered to local government. We have all the stories in the Daily Mail about Tory councils engaging in absurd health and safety zealotry.  Council leaders, should they wish to remain in post, will have an interest in sorting the matter out.


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