"Nanny state" or necessary care?

The list of what you can and can't do.
The list of what you can and can't do.

The council has defended park signs which have sparked controversy because of the number of activities which are spelt out in detail as banned.

The signs prohibit fifteen activities and list another five which can be done with safety equipment or special care. They tell park visitors: “Warning: Use of this facility may be hazardous”.

The council’s Director of Development, Graham Price, said they weren’t new and were following policy which was decided on three years ago.

But members of the public have called the signs “ridiculous”. 

The tone of some comments on Facebook is that there is an element of “Nanny State” going on and that the explicit warnings in well manicured parks are a big a hammer to crack a small nut. 

Green activist and Glenn Innes teacher, Mercurius Goldstein, said: “I've read the sign carefully and it looks as though nude synchronised skateboarding should be fine.”

But the council has obligations which can get it into trouble if they are not met. Insurers insist on precautions in case people who have accidents reach for a lawyer.

The council is following advice from the state government that “councils have been subject to liability claims subject to signage on many occasions”.

People have claimed that their injuries in parks and other council facilities were caused by “an absence of appropriate signage, insufficient signage or the wording or location of signage (was) deficient.”

“Legally, the benefit of a sign is that it brings the foreseeable risk to the attention of the person at that location. It is intended to add to the knowledge of the person who views the sign. If the person then elects to enter the area and suffers injury as a result of the risk about which the warning symbol relates, then arguably Council has satisfied its duty of care and no liability should attach to it. However, the sign must be appropriate to the situation and placed in an appropriate position to satisfy Council’s duty of care.”

Col Pike said on Facebook: “It's the most inappropriate and absurd looking sign I've seen in a very long time. The people who need to be told those things won't pay any attention anyway.”

Some were more understanding of the need for the sign erected by Glen Innes Severn Council.

Navanka Fletcher, originally from Glen Innes, said on the Examiner’s Facebook page that the council was protecting itself: “If people had common sense they wouldn’t have to.”