Signs of Danger in the University Parks

The University Parks in Oxford are looking particularly lovely this year, after several years of intensive work. Not a thing jars or looks out of place…. until you reach Rainbow Bridge, or High Bridge as it is properly known.

There you find that Health & Safety have been at one of their job creation schemes. A garish red and white notice, adorned with little prohibition symbols, proclaims that there must be:

No Diving or Swimming

No swimming sign in the University Parks, Oxford

One can imagine the horror with which some gormless little Jobsworth at Elfin Safety discovered that people are in the habit of swimming here. In a river! An untamed, natural river, without life-guards and railings and rules!

People have swum here, drunk and sober, clothed and unclothed, for generations. Some have drowned here – not just here, but up- and down-stream from here, and acquired the occasional bout of illness from the water. But it is fun, a simple pleasure, with a modest degree of risk.

This place is not to be confused with the lower stretch a few hundred yards down where the bottom shelves abruptly and where notices were erected last year after a boy drowned. Even I would concede the need for a notice there because the danger is concealed.

This is in fact a fitting spot for a Health & Safety officer to interfere. High Bridge was build in 1923 – 1924 as part of a scheme of relief for people who could not find work. Most of the work of Health & Safety officers is of the same kind – occupation for people who would otherwise be unemployable.

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About Chris Dale

I have been an English solicitor since 1980. I run the e-Disclosure Information Project which collects and comments on information about electronic disclosure / eDiscovery and related subjects in the UK, the US, AsiaPac and elsewhere
This entry was posted in Bureaucrats, Health & Safety, Oxford, Signs and Notices. Bookmark the permalink.

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