More hanging baskets facing chop

Swaffham is the latest Norfolk town to be denuded by health and safety laws forcing it to remove every hanging basket.

Swaffham is the latest Norfolk town to be denuded by health and safety laws forcing it to remove every hanging basket.

The town centre is to be stripped of all 40 of its colourful displays of baskets because of fears they could pull lampposts over.

There is anger at the move among town authorities who feel it is a senseless move that will leave the centre a barren place.

But Norfolk County Council has insisted the move is necessary to protect the public until the ageing lampposts in the town centre are replaced.

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It follows a similar ban on hanging flower baskets from lampposts in Attleborough and officials have said that such bans will be put in place where needed across the county, ahead of a scheme to replace older lampposts over the next 25 years.

In a report to the town council at a meeting on Wednesday, town clerk Richard Bishop said: “Some over officious officers have put the council under seven days notice to remove the hanging baskets on health and safety grounds.

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“There is talk from this department of lighting columns that are condemned but yet are safe to have a street light on them.”

Speaking after the meeting Mr Bishop said: “You will lose that immediate impact of the hanging baskets as you come into town.

“We are concerned that it will take away that nice feeling it brings to the town centre.”

He said that the county council had sent it conflicting messages about the ban.

“The way we were dealt with has been unacceptable; three separate officers at the county council have told us three different things,” he said.

Spokesman for the county council Mel Willis said that the county council needed the hanging baskets to be removed ahead of the replacement of the ageing lampposts in Swaffham over the next five years.

She said: “The tightening up of rules on attachments to columns is in response to an ageing stock of street lighting columns and signs.

“The columns in Swaffham were identified in a review as coming towards the end of their designed life.

“The inspections we carried out in Swaffham are part of a Norfolk-wide programme of checking existing columns.”

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