Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Council 'bonkers' for conkers alert

A council pinned a notice to a chestnut tree saying 'BEWARE Falling Conkers'

A Conservative minister has suggested that a council which pinned a notice to a horse chestnut tree telling passers-by to beware of falling conkers had "gone bonkers".

Local Government minister Bob Neill suggested council officials in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, were being "excessive health and safety zealots".

Council bosses said the notice - which reads "BEWARE Falling Conkers" and advises walkers to "proceed with care" - was put on a tree in a popular public garden after a passer-by was hit on the head.

But Mr Neill said the sign was unnecessary.

"If a conker falls out of the sky and hits you on the head nobody needs a council sign to confirm they walked under a chestnut tree," he said.

"Every person who ever went to school knows exactly when conker season is - there is no need for councils to go bonkers over conkers.

"We want to see an end to the excessive health and safety zealots whose form filling has replaced common sense reigning in popular activities."

A spokeswoman for St Edmundsbury Borough Council said the notice was put up in the Abbey Gardens earlier this week as a "courtesy" to visitors and would stay until all conkers had fallen. She said a walker suffered a cut head after being hit by a falling conker and parks staff had decided to issue a warning.

"A couple of people came into our parks office after one had been hit by falling conkers and asked if we could warn people at this time of year," said the spokeswoman. "So, as a courtesy to our many Abbey Gardens visitors, we have put up a temporary notice."

She said the council did not have a "a health and safety policy about conkers" and did not have warning signs on any other trees.

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