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In many ways, the silencing of Big Ben is a metaphor for the lunacy of modern Britain’s risk-averse culture, not just the legions of elf’n’safety, but the unreasonable demands of the insurance companies — seeking any loophole to prevent paying out on policies.
It has also created a goldmine for those no-win, no-fee, Blame Direct spiv law firms who advertise on daytime TV.
Yet at the same time, some minor repairs to a bridge on London’s North Circular Road dragged on for more than two years.
When it comes to public projects, time and money appear to be no object. The fact that these works regularly cause the maximum possible inconvenience to the public who are paying for it through their taxes is of no consequence.
They’ve even banned window cleaners from using ladders, just in case they fall off.
So I wasn’t surprised to read that one of the reasons given for not providing ear protectors to those working in the Elizabeth Tower was that they are ‘unsuitable for people working at heights’.
It has been used by news bulletins to introduce solemn announcements on matters of state, from the death of kings to the declaration of war and the proclamation of victory. From Monday, the bell will be mothballed while renovation work takes place on the structure which houses it — renamed the Elizabeth Tower to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of our beloved Queen.We all accept that a temporary hiatus may be necessary to maintain a vital part of the fabric of our nation.It has happened before for a short while, most recently in 2007.I can’t believe that the din in the Elizabeth Tower during renovation will be much worse than in the average foundry, or any other construction site for that matter.So why is it deemed essential to shut down the bell for four whole years?