Notes of a meeting between The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers and Ecclesiastical Insurance Group

23rd October 2009 – EIG Offices – Gloucester

Ecclesiastical – Derrick Fox (Senior Surveyor); Emma Gordon (Direct Charities Dept)
CCCBR – Kate Flavell, (Vice President); Derek Harbottle (Treasurer); Christopher O’Mahony (Tower Stewardship Committee)

This meeting is one of a series of ongoing liaison meetings between the two organisations.

1 EIG Guidance
Derrick re-stated EIG’s overall desire to strive for a commonsense approach towards safety in churches. EIG’s Church Guidance Notes for Health & Safety are regularly reviewed, and are designed to assist churches to minimise risks while still encouraging church activities.
EIG have recently updated their guidance regarding the use of vertical ladders. CCCBR and EIG are agreed that the various guidance notes published by EIG, HSE, English Heritage, Towers & Belfries Committee and Tower Stewardship Committee are in concordance.

2 Public Liability Claims
EIG reports that, since 2007, ringing-related PL claims have been minimal. Derrick Fox advised that EIG had knowledge of just one incident, which may or may not progress to a claim.
Another case where the Council had been asked to provide an expert witness for the injured party has gone quiet following input from expert ringers. In this case, there was concern that the PCC appeared to have been encouraging the injured party to claim against the church’s PL policy, without understanding the need to prove negligence.

3 Other claims
EIG advised that there were no other ringing-related claims to report.

4 Public Liability Insurance
Guild Public Liability cover – EIG re-iterated their offer to Guilds. The premiums are very affordable. While not mandatory to hold this insurance, EIG encourages Guilds to take advantage of the offer.
Employers Liability cover for CCCBR – Although CCCBR does not have any employees, a number of volunteers act in various capacities for the CCCBR and under certain EU legislation, volunteers are regarded as employees. EIG strongly advised CCCBR to take up such cover, with an estimated premium of £50 per annum. They recommend this to ensure there is no gap in cover when volunteers can sometimes work very like employees. EIG will write to Derek Harbottle with a definite quote and the Officers will consider it.

5/6 Risk Assessments, and Bell maintenance by ringers
Christopher highlighted guidance published by the Tower Stewardship Committee (GN4 and GN6) that related to Fire Risk Assessment and Health & Safety, including a ready-reckoner risk assessment tool. He also noted that Towers & Belfries Committee runs regular workshops for diocesan and branch bell advisers, which includes training in safe systems of work. Derrick encouraged CCCBR to look at the EIG on-line risk assessment tool, as he felt it was simpler than that published by TSC, and an exemplar of good practice.

7 Child Protection
EIG welcomed the quantity and quality of advice provided by CCCBR to ringers regarding the new Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups legislation. Derrick asked if it would be more accurate to include “vulnerable groups” in CCCBR’s guidance on Child Protection (GN3). Tower Stewardship Committee will look at this again, but it was pointed out that the new legislation clearly differentiated between children and other vulnerable groups, and that existing roles and mechanisms in the Church of England had their focus on Child Protection.

8/9 Heaters and Fire Extinguishers
Derrick noted that he was often taken aback at the lack of fire extinguishers in belfries, and also unsatisfactory heaters in some belfries. Christopher advised that Tower Stewardship Committee includes fire risk guidance (GN6) and also Towers & Belfries gives recommendations in its guidance notes.
CCCBR will reinforce the need for fire extinguishers in belfries, that fire extinguishers need to be regularly checked and maintained, and that heaters must comply with recommendations.
If churches are looking to purchase fire extinguishers, EIG recommends CPS (Churches Purchasing Scheme).

10 Clock Winding
Derrick highlighted a recent newspaper clipping (Daily Mail 18/09/2009) which suggested that a diocesan bell adviser had recommended that a church spend £5,000 to replace a clock winding mechanism rather than continue an allegedly unsafe manual winding procedure. EIG felt that it may be possible to review the current procedures in such a way that can make the process safer, but avoid the church spending £5,000 on new equipment. CCCBR will investigate with the relevant Guild.

11 TSC Leaflets
EIG has looked at the TSC leaflets, and feels that their scope is broad and comprehensive.

Any other business
It is proposed to hold another meeting in Autumn 2010 – exact date TBA.

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