Concerns raised at proposals for Boxing Day dip

Concerns have been raised about proposed changes to the way the Spittal Boxing Day dip is organised.

By Ian Smith
Thursday, 11 April, 2019, 08:32
Georgina Hill, Karin Graham and Colin Hardy fund-raising for Motor Neurone Disease Association at the Boxing Day dip in Spittal.

To ensure future safety and reduce risk, Berwick Town Council is seeking to adopt a more proactive approach to organising the event.

This would include a formal pre-registration procedure and levying an entrance fee to raise funds for the Mayoress’s charity and the RNLI.

It is suggested that pre-registration would involve a short form confirming the applicant’s fitness to take part, and their acceptance of risks arising from their participation and the payment of the fee.

A wristband would also be issued, enabling accurate numbers of those taking part to be collected.

However, Colin Hardy, a regular attender at the event to raise money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association, said: “I can’t get my head around why the council are looking to change the format of how it is governed.

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“I don’t mind paying an entry fee and I don’t mind supporting charities through bucket donations but I do strongly object to a preference being given to a Mayoress’s charity that may not be the charity of other people’s choice.

“I think it’s a step in the wrong direction. This council signed an MND charter to support the charity and putting a hurdle in front of how we raise money on a public beach is not keeping that promise.”

Coun Karin Graham added: “I am dead against this. To me, it’s over-zealous.”

Clark Gareth Davies, attempting to allay concerns, explained: “We have no power to stop anyone from organising a charity event on a beach. What we are trying to do is regularise the situation where we are assuming liability for the safety of people taking part in an event that we appear to organise. We have to be able to demonstrate that we’ve taken steps to ensure that nobody comes to harm. We’re not trying to muscle in on anything. We’ve always sought to raise funds for the Mayoress’s charity. We’re desperate not to preclude other charities from raising money for their own charities. That would be wholly inappropriate but if we are going to provide insurance risk assessment we think it’s reasonable to ask something in return and that is a small donation.”