Suing culture ruins your landscape, experts warn

Fear of being sued is making local authorities obsessed with safety and turning urban areas into “fun-free, soul-less spaces”, says CABE Space.

The Government watchdog said the cost of bogus or excessive compensation claims to UK councils was around £117 million a year, worth an extra 3,900 park keepers. Ancient trees, boating lakes, adventure playgrounds, festivals, markets, water features and public art were therefore being classed “too risky” by jittery authorities, said CABE Space on the launch of a new 10-point manifesto. Last month Suffolk County Council outlawed hanging baskets from lampposts in Bury St Edmunds fearing one might fall on somebody’s head, even though this had never happened in the 18 years they had been on show. It was the latest in a string of similar decisions that have seen horse chestnut trees threatened with the chop because their conkers might be a “danger” to youngsters and the removal of a swing from a village playing field on the grounds it faced into the sun and could blind children. Manchester City Council's budget for tackling compensation claims – nine out of 10 of which fail - is bigger than its budget for repairing the city's broken pavements. CABE is urging people to sign up to the manifesto at www.itsyourspace.org.uk

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