Page last updated at 19:11 GMT, Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Safety fears mute church concert

A Christmas choir concert at a Dorset church has been cancelled over health and safety fears.

Collegium Vocale were due to perform Handel's Messiah on Saturday at St Stephen Church in Kingston Lacy.

But organisers have cancelled the event at the 101-year-old building citing a "blame culture".

Organisers feared the rural church could be dangerous in the dark and they might be sued if someone slipped over on the unlit tree-lined avenue outside.

The blame culture that currently pervades our society means that Collegium Vocale simply cannot take the risk
Choirmaster Ian Davis

The building has electric lights but no back-up in the event of a power cut or fire, which it was felt could put the congregation at risk.

Choirmaster Ian Davis, 43, carried out a risk assessment of the venue.

"Unfortunately the laws now governing Health and Safety make a concert in a country church within the hours of darkness totally impracticable," he said.

"Should something go wrong, those responsible for promoting the event could face criminal prosecution.

"The blame culture that currently pervades our society means that Collegium Vocale simply cannot take the risk of promoting this very popular event that we hope has, in the past, brought pleasure to a great many people."

The Reverend Dr Alistair Stewart-Sykes, has liability insurance but the policy does not cover commercial events, such as concerts.

Dr Stewart-Sykes said: "While we regret the cancellation we must abide by the law.

"We are discussing with our own insurers with a view to continuing our programme of concerts."

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SEE ALSO
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03 Dec 08 |  Suffolk
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