DCMS blog

News from the front line on the war against red tape

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John Penrose

John David Penrose is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Weston-super-Mare

I shared my thoughts with you last time about the Red Tape Challenge which, as I explained, was a chance for those people who actually work in the leisure industries to name and shame the rules and regulations that make their working lives that bit harder than they should be.

The RTC, as we might as well call it, is an idea that has come right from the very top and was launched by the Prime Minister. And it surprises me not one bit that it has proved to be something of a success with the industry; so much so, in fact, that our original two-week period for suggestions has been extended to four.
As an MP with a seaside constituency, I’m only too aware – because my constituents leave me in no doubt on the matter – that there is a real jungle of red tape that has grown like so much bindweed through the industry. For many, it is the number one thing holding them back from really getting on with things, and giving the public what they want and expect: a first-class service at a sensible price.

Bureaucratic idiocy?

Red Tape ChallengeSo, as we’re now about half way through the newly-extended four week period for comments and suggestions, I can’t resist sharing with you some rather striking examples of things that have been posted so far on the site. Now it may be that these are all invaluable and carefully-drawn up pieces of administrative good sense, or on the other hand, they may be little more than priceless examples of pointless bureaucratic idiocy from well-meaning but somewhat other-worldly folk in Whitehall, Quangoland and our Town Halls. Either way, the RTC will now allow them to be looked at – and evaluated – with fresh eyes, and that is not, I would suggest, before time.
Here are just four:
• Rules which require self-catering accommodation to be expensively inspected for an Energy Performance Certificates every 10 years even if they’ve made no changes to their homes in that time;
• Baffling requirements for hotels to keep personal details of their guests for a year or more after they checked out;
• Fire regulations for B&Bs that are enforced with the sort of obsessive zeal more commonly associated with the Spanish Inquisition in the 15th century; and best of all
• The Health and Safety rule that requires hotel owners to keep ‘hot’ water at over 50 degrees Celsius to minimise the risk of Legionella, while stipulating at the same time that it mustn’t exceed 42 degrees, to avoid scalding.
For that last example, as they say in the tabloids: “you couldn’t make it up.” And, yes, all this would be hilarious if it wasn’t so energy-draining and brain-sapping for the poor devils that actually have to implement them.

Let off steam

So don’t forget, if this kind of thing is as infuriating for you as it is for me, this really is YOUR chance to get your own back. You’ve got two more weeks. And, believe me, this time it isn’t just a chance to let off steam, receive a polite pat on the head, and see the square root of bugger-all actually happen in terms of actual deregulation. No. This time we’re going to work on the assumption that, unless there’s a rock-solid reason for keeping the regulation in question, it’ll get the heave-ho.
I can’t wait.

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