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Kids back on board

Last updated 11:29 20/09/2012
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PARADES SORTED: Under-fives like these at Kumeu are allowed back on Christmas parade floats, although Kumeu Rotary Santa Parade organiser Dale Wallace says they should be under adequate adult supervision. A council blanket event permit is nearly finalised, avoiding the need for consents as well.

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Lolly scrambles, water pistol fights and under-fives are allowed back in Christmas parades.

Auckland mayor Len Brown has made the call.

"It's all sorted," Kumeu Rotary Santa Parade organiser Dale Wallace says.

Mrs Wallace saw red about Auckland Council's Christmas parade health and safety requirements, and went public with her concerns.

Kumeu will continue its parade water fight tradition on December 7 at 7pm, but mainly with water pistols, as water cannons and water bombs are banned this year, she says.

Earlier reports under-fives could not be parade passengers risked much of the event's credibility, as preschool floats are a major component, she says.

"What about the newborn baby on the Jesus in a manger float?"

Under-fives are allowed on floats provided there is a two children to one adult ratio, and lollies will be handed out. Friends and family dressed as clowns have handed lollies to spectators in previous parades.

"I will be sending a letter to all parade entrants outlining the requirements," Mrs Wallace says. "We are taking every practical step to make the parade safe."

Anyone breaking the rules risks disciplinary action.

Rodney councillor Penny Webster asked council staff to ease up on the parade issue. "I told them I would not be the Grinch that spoilt Christmas but rather the Christmas fairy.

"Most organisers of Christmas parades take the responsibility very seriously and put in place measures so that kids don't hurt themselves.

"I pointed out re the under-fives issue that most small town parades involve primary schools, kindys and playcentres. Children are usually sitting down and are well supervised. Sweet throwing is safer than littlies running towards floats for handouts."

Council events manager David Burt says staff are not anti Christmas parades.

"We wholeheartedly encourage Santa parades and want all Auckland kids to have fun at this special time - but also to be safe and sensible."

Event organisers have to submit a health and safety plan as part of the council's event permit process.

"This is not a new requirement," Mr Burt says. "As part of this plan, organisers independently put together a list of potential health and safety risks and provide detail on how they will address these issues.

"Our role is to ensure that the mitigation plans to address these risks are acceptable and in keeping with the current health and safety legislation. Individual parade organisers must use their own discretion and generally acceptable safety practices when deciding what potential health and safety risks there may be."

The Rodney Times story on Christmas parade red tape featured on September 11, P7.

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