Bang goes council bid to muffle Alan’s drum-beat

Alan Sutherland 'Drumming for the Planet' .
Alan Sutherland 'Drumming for the Planet' .

A LOCAL enviromental campaigner, who wanted to organise a small drumming event at a park in Galashiels has been told by Scottish Borders Council (SBC) he must first obtain public liability insurance to the value of £5million.

But Alan Sutherland, a call centre worker from Newtown, plans to defy the council, saying he will go ahead with his drum session.

Mr Sutherland was told he must also provide a risk assessment, a site plan and “details of consultations which you have undertaken to ensure your event is delivered successfully and safely”.

Mr Sutherland, 55, said this week he was “staggered” at these demands which arrived in a letter from the local authority on April 1. “It’s ironic that I got this on April Fool’s Day,” he told us.

Despite the council’s demands, Mr Sutherland has vowed to go ahead with his event and has issued an invitation to drum enthusiasts across the region to join him in the Public Park, Galashiels, on Sunday, May 1, at 11am.

“I wanted to hold a ‘drumming for the planet’ event on May Day and telephoned the council to check if the date and venue were free,” said Mr Sutherland. “I explained to a member of staff in environmental services/parks what my plans were as simply as I could.

“I intended inviting anyone to come along a do some drumming with any percussion instruments, homemade or otherwise, to simply drum in a spirit of fun to show we care about what is happening to Planet Earth.

“The drumming will only last for about half an hour and I’m not expecting a huge number of participants, but the response from the council has completely staggered me. I fear they imagine I am holding a Gala version of T in the Park or a rock concert.”

A spokesman for SBC, which is also seeking “suitable guarantees” that any damage caused by the event will be made good, told us: “This is a standard pack we send out to event organisers to make sure they comply with the appropriate regulations. It also offers a level of protection to the event organisers themselves.”

Asked whether, given the nature of Mr Sutherland’s proposal, he would still have to take out insurance and submit a risk assessment, the spokesman replied: “Yes”.

Mr Sutherland, an occasional student at the Lendrick Lodge holistic and spiritual teaching centre in Stirlingshire, said: “This is bureaucracy gone completely bonkers.”