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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 October 2005, 17:18 GMT 18:18 UK
Church pays 1,300 to see light
Father Anthony Sutch
Father Anthony Sutch said he was surprised by the sixfold increase
A church is having to pay 1,300 to replace four 80p light bulbs because of new health and safety laws.

The EU's "working at height" directive meant a full risk assessment had to be carried out and a scaffolding tower brought in to reach the bulbs.

Parish priest at St Benet's Minster in Beccles, Suffolk, Father Anthony Sutch, said the job used to cost about 200.

He said the money - a sixfold increase - could have been better spent on a few lives somewhere else in the world.

It is difficult with all these worries about money going on at the same time
Father Anthony Sutch

Father Sutch said in May he asked a local firm to replace four bulbs 40ft up on the walls of the nave and a few wall fittings.

The risk assessment was done, the scaffolding tower used to do the work and the bill arrived - but now four more bulbs need to be replaced.

Father Sutch said: "Of course, I'm trying to concentrate on the things of God and I've got a parish to run, but it is difficult with all these worries about money going on at the same time.

"It is important that companies take health and safety seriously, I totally stand by that. But the cost is six times what it was, while my congregation is not growing that fast."

Father Sutch said he was now considering having the lights lowered to get round the problem.

A Health and Safety Executive spokesman said the regulations tackled one of the biggest safety issues in the workplace - falls from height - and help people work at height safely.

"Last year 13 workers died from falls while working on a ladder, and more than 1,200 people suffered serious injuries, including broken bones and fractured skulls.

"The regulations do not ban ladders, but safer alternatives must have been ruled out first."


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