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HSE responds to Rotary Club of Cheam decision to ban Santa from his sleigh

"Elf and safety Santa ban" - Daily Star, 14 December 2012
Response date:
14 December 2012

Dear Mr Cunningham,

I have seen a number of stories in today's newspapers reporting that your Rotary Club branch has taken a decision to prevent Santa Claus from riding on a sleigh during Sutton's Annual Parade.

Health and safety has been cited as being the reason behind this decision, so I am writing to you asking for clarification of the issue.

Health and safety laws exist to provide safeguards against people being seriously injured or made unwell at work, not to hamper fun activities.

Clearly nobody wants Santa injured at this, his most important time of year. But regular parades take place all year around all over Britain and floats are a major part of that tradition. Others have been successful in finding ways of safely letting performers ride on vehicles so I am curious to know why you considered this was not possible.

There may be genuine reasons why the Rotary Club has taken this decision, but there is nothing in health and safety law which stands in your way.

All too often we see headlines in the press citing health and safety as reasons for unpopular decisions. We recognise the decision is yours to make but we would appreciate you making public details of the real reason behind your decision.

Yours sincerely,

Judith Hackitt
Health and Safety Executive

Updated 2012-12-14