Christmas festival hit by red tape

Lanark's Santa Dash
Lanark's Santa Dash

Near-disbelief has greeted the news that plans to hold a kiddies’ Santa’s Grotto at one of Clydesdale’s major festive events have been ruined by health and safety fears.

Angry allegations of “health and safety gone mad” were made by organisers of December 6’s Festive Taste of Lanark.

It was revealed senior management of a chain store on the High Street had decided it couldn’t risk hosting the grotto “in case there were complaints”.

The situation was revealed to Lanark Community Council at a recent meeting.

All making the criticism of the decision of M&Co are at great pains to point out that the firm’s Lanark staff and managament are totally blameless.

Any anger is directed at the chain’s senior management who appear to have vetoed an initial local agreement to host the event, the last of three being held as part of Lanark’s new pre-Christmas Winterfest.

The bad news was broken to a meeting of Lanark Community Council by its member responsible for the Festive Taste promotion, Eleanor Mclean.

She told the meeting M&Co had said that they couldn’t have the grotto in their store as there might be ‘complaints’.

She said: “This is a great shame because the store’s Lanark staff seemed to see no problems with the grotto going in there. In fact, they were keen to help, as they always are when there’s a good cause to support in Lanark. It looks like senior management in M&Co. made the decision over their heads.”

The news was greeted with outrage ‑ chairman Frank Gunning exclaiming: “This is health and safety gone mad! What have we come to when we can’t run something as innocent as a Santa’s Grotto for our kiddies?

“This doesn’t make sense because whoever was going to play Santa would have had full disclosure (under child protection legislation) anyway. This is madness.”

An M&Co. spokeswoman said: “Unfortunately due to the peak trading period and the health and safety issues that accompany this, we regrettably aren’t able to host the Santa’s Grotto this year.

“However, M&Co and employees at the Lanark store remain committed to fundraising for both local charities and Cancer Research UK.”