COMMENT: This is one case where the law truly is an ass...

Charmaine Botes with her daughters Makayla Williams, four, and Brooke Williams, 10 months at the New Forest
Charmaine Botes with her daughters Makayla Williams, four, and Brooke Williams, 10 months at the New Forest
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It was our own beloved Charles Dickens — under the guise of bumptious Beadle Mr Bumble in Oliver Twist — who coined the phrase: ‘The law is an ass.’

And never was that phrase more apt than when applied to the ruling by Havant Borough Council over the birthday party plans dreamed up by Waterloovile mother-of-two Charmaine Botes.

Charmaine’s daughters, four-year-old Mikayla and 10-month-old Brooke love animals (as most children do) and Charmaine planned an imaginative celebration starring a pair of donkeys from a local sanctuary.

She looked forward to introducing her baby to a real live animal, and the event promised to be fun for 40 invited adults and 20 children.

But Havant Borough Council was having none of it.

They have told Charmaine they will not allow the party to be held on public land.

Havant Borough Council’s executive director James Hassett solemnly explained that the bureacrats’ hands were tied: ‘We do not give consent to activities or functions which exclude access to members of the general public.

‘Events such as fetes, circuses and other open public events go through a formal licence application process to ensure they meet safety requirements.

‘As part of this, those holding the event need to possess adequate public liability indemnity insurance cover.’

Realistically though, what harm could a pair of donkeys do in a field? And curious passers-by would have been free to admire the animals if they wished.

Surely this is a case where common sense should have prevailed over health-and-safety red tape and the requirements of public liability indemnity insurance cover?

Does m’lud not agree?