Sidmouth Folk Festival: Safety on
the Bulverton Caravan Site
Letter of 15 June 1998 to the Chief Executive of
In August 1997 I wrote to the director of the Folk Festival expressing concern about
safety on the camp site. I did not receive a reply and in view of the possibility of
injury and my own position now as a town councillor I am copying the relevant paragraphs
to you. I am here assuming you have some remit for safety via licencing of the site.
If an accident or fatality occurs in the current or any subsequent year it will be for
insurers and/or the Courts to apportion blame having taken note of all guidance issued and
comments made. After writing the letter of August 1997 I was told there was some sort of a
'runaway' incident in 1997 but have no confirmation.
I wrote in these terms:
I am writing to confirm
discussions with some of your stewards and campers. I have some experience towing
caravans, horseboxes, trailers etc and considerable mechanical expertise also. I am amazed
that the camp site is organised with caravans on a slope above rows of tents. A runaway
caravan could easily result in a tragedy.
As a matter of fact (not opinion) it is never advised to unhitch a trailer or caravan on a
slope if at all possible. Old caravans never had very good brakes and systems on many
older vehicles are in a poor state. Many owners are mechanically incompetent. Some believe
that winding down the steady legs onto blocks of wood and putting little chocks under the
wheels makes the whole outfit safe on a slope. This is nonsense, especially on grass. An
uncoupled trailer on a slope can be a disaster waiting to happen. I can send you more
details if you wish.
For greatest safety, caravans etc should be parked at lower level and with no tents below
them. It might be difficult to tow them back up in muddy conditions but a four wheel drive
tractor hired for a few days would cope. Towing any trailer sideways across a steep slope
or with any sideslip is potentially dangerous in all conditions. Dead farmers could
testify to this. I do not know of conditions at the end of the week or if any accidents
did occur this year. If not, you were lucky. Other knowledgeable people I have spoken to
share my views - we think you should review arrangements before events force you to do so.
Dr Stephen J Wozniak
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