Turning away Wimbledon fans is not a health and safety issue, says Merton Council


People who had queued overnight for Centre Court tickets were turned away.


By Sam Morgan

Merton Council have stood by their decision to turn away tennis fans who queued overnight for Wimbledon tickets.

People waiting for Centre Court tickets for Andy Murray’s match against Benjamin Becker were, according to the Daily Mail, in breach of the council’s health and safety regulations.

However, the council confirmed the issue was totally separate to health and safety concerns, sparking criticism of how safety regulations are reported.

“Decisions are sometimes made in the name of ‘health and safety’ when in reality it has little or nothing to do with health and safety and other factors are the real motivation,” said Alex Botha, Chief Executive of the British Safety Council.

Mr Botha said the term is often incorrectly used in the press, citing the example of when schools ban conkers for health and safety when in reality it is more to do with unnecessary rules.

A spokesperson for the Health and Safety Executive, an independent regulator for work-related health, confirmed that Merton Council had told them the issue was unrelated to health and safety.

“We would echo the sentiment that health and safety gets a bad press,” added the spokesperson.

“We have a dedicated myth busters panel which regularly rebut the kind of stories that appear in the media.”

Some fans who camped at the site at Wimbledon Park complained they had not been informed of the changes, but Merton Council insisted they had maintained their regular rules.

A council spokesperson said: “We have always allowed people to camp 24 hours before tickets go on sale whilst discouraging people from setting their tents up any earlier. This is no different from previous years.

“This is so regular park visitors and residents aren’t disrupted whilst ensuring the championships are a huge success and that spectators can queue for tickets in the park if they wish to.

Last Saturday, the sixth day of the event, the All England Club urged those intending to queue for tickets not to travel to Wimbledon, with those already in-line waiting hours for day sales.

Tennis fans part of The Queue, as it’s now formally known, can buy premium tickets for show courts on the day, and 8,000 grounds passes are available.

Wimbledon, the oldest of the four grand slam events and the only played on grass, attracted nearly half a million visitors in 2012, with more expected this year.

Photo courtesy of Magnus D, with thanks.

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