The Financial Costs of Falling Down in Norfolk
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Nigel Herwin

Disclaimer: This piece was inspired by our local newspaper, the Western Daily Squash, which reported a few weeks ago that last year more than 50,000 in compensation was paid to nine pedestrians who tripped over while walking through Norwich.

To paraphrase that jolly Mancunian grumpbucket Morrissey, “There’s panic on the streets of Norwich!” It seems that to merely venture out of your front door will result in risking life and limb and a scabby knee, because the pavements of Norwich are a dangerous place. I’m not talking about selfish cyclists who can’t be bothered to use the road or those speed demons in mobility scooters. Nor am I talking about kamikaze skateboarders, reckless roller-skaters, or the formidable battalions of prams and pushchairs. And neither do I include those barrow boy purveyors of tat with their rattling stalls on castors, or buskers, or mimes, or religious crusaders, or, by far and away the worst of all, those irritatingly cheerful chuggers. Go away, please. Just go away…

No, it seems that the pavements are the biggest stumbling block for the poor pedestrian. Over the past year, the Council has paid out over £50,000 in compensation to people who have tripped and fallen. Mrs Augusta Zincgusset, the council spokesperson on crack, I’m sorry I’ll read that again, the council spokesperson on cracks in the pavement had this to say:

“There’s nothing I enjoy more than seeing a good citizen of Norwich doing a comedy pratfall. I think it really brightens up the day. However, now it’s starting to cost the Council money, it isn’t so funny anymore. So I guess we’ll have to do some repairs to the wonky pavements.”

Ten seconds later, Mrs Zincgusset, had a brainwave:

“I have suddenly had a new idea to prevent people tripping on the pavement and claiming compensation. From next year, anyone coming into Norwich city centre can only do so if they are on a pogo stick or stilts. This will ensure that there will be absolutely no comedy pratfalls or accidents and, therefore, no insurance claims! It’s an absolutely brilliant idea.”

No it isn’t, Mrs Zincgusset is quite clearly being very silly. I would suggest that if the Council really wants to stop pedestrians tripping over uneven surfaces, the first thing they should do is tarmac over the cobbles on Elm Hill. But that would bring an end to centuries of tradition of watching tourists doing comedy pratfalls on the most historic street in our fine city.

Actually, could we make those irritatingly cheerful chuggers go down Elm Hill on a skateboard? Oh the comedy pratfalls and scabby knees that would result! It would certainly wipe the smiles off their irritatingly chee

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