I think it’s called the ‘precautionary principle’, the dictum that, if anything could conceivably result in loss or injury, steps are taken to avoid it. Taken to its ‘logical’ conclusion, I’m not sure that we should get out of bed in the morning.
Here at Staunton we are currently seeing two examples of it. A track known as the ‘cycle path’ leads off from our Visitors’ Car Park onto Forestry Commission land. When I called there this morning I counted eight separate notices pinned to the fences within the first fifty yards. Three of them stated that the bridge ahead was closed. A couple of months ago the FC warden emailed me to say that ‘experts’ had pronounced the bridge unsafe and it would be replaced, but probably not for some time. I walked down to it six weeks ago; spanning a ditch about two feet deep the barrier tape had been ripped off and hundreds of people walk across it every day. Other notices telling walkers to clean up after their dog were partly obscured – by bags of dog shit hung on the posts.
Here at the Hall we have endured a month of disruption while heavy lorries bring in tonnes of scaffolding to throw an extra roof over the church, owned by the National Trust. Some months earlier thieves stole the lead from the chancel and south aisle. The Trust have yet to replace the lead, and it looks like being Spring before our front door is free of workmen and their equipment. I’m sorry, but this is overkill. My family have spent half a century restoring historic buildings, including large roofs, so I speak from experience.
When will common sense reassert itself? Not anytime soon, I fear.