Sidmouth Folk Festival: Safety on the Bulverton Caravan Site

Letter of 15 June 1998 to the Chief Executive of EDDC

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.

Yours faithfully

Dr Stephen J Wozniak

next page of caravan subsection

next main page

back to top of section

back to home page