London, Nov 30: Santa Claus is all set to belt-up in his 5mph sleigh this Christmas eve amidst health and safety precautions.
Health and safety regulations in Halesowen, West Midlands are forcing the big man to wear a seatbelt in case he falls off while parading through the streets at a mere five mph.
The local rotary club has been compelled to fit a belt to the sleigh he uses there - or face a 200-pound increase in its insurance premiums.
President of the Halesowen and Rowley Regis Rotary Club Barry Wheeler said they were shocked after learning the news from their insurers.
"He would be more likely to injure himself getting in and out of the sleigh than actually falling out of it,” the Daily Mail quoted Wheeler, as saying.
"We have done the sleigh round the towns for something like 20 years. Every year we have made sure Santa gets to go through town and wave to the children.
"But this year we found out we actually needed a much more wideranging insurance policy for Santa riding on the sleigh because of health and safety rules. It would have run into a four-figure sum,” he added.
He further said that the group paid for Santa's visits from club funds, and could not meet the expense of the higher premium.
"It seems so silly, but it's just what we have had to do to make sure the event stays running. It was so worrying to think we wouldn't be able to hold the event just because of something like insurance,” he said.
"It somewhat takes the magic out of it. But at least we get to carry on and Santa can carry on spreading his Christmas cheer,” he added.
However, Kelly Ostler, from the Association of British Insurers, defended the move, insisting that they want people to be able to enjoy themselves while being protected.
"Premiums are set according to both the risk and the amount that the courts award for personal injury claims,” she said.
"Awards are rising by 10 per cent every year and this, coupled with the growing compensation culture, means that insurers are paying out more and more.
"We want people to be able to enjoy themselves while being protected against other people's possible negligence.
"This is as much about protecting Santa from other drivers as protecting him from the speed of his sleigh,” she added. (ANI)
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