This is going to be a bit of a bonus for many people; technically they're supposed to report any timber they salvage to the Receiver of Wreck, but I won't hold my breath. We'll turn a blind eye and the beaches will be clear in no time.Of course, he didn't say that at all.
What he actually said was that beaches were dangerous places and should only be entered by trained professionals in safety gear, that handling a plank of wood needed special skills and the government would engage qualified contractors at enormous expense to do so, and that any member of the public who so much as touched a piece of timber risked imprisonment. Libby Purves shares a lesson from Suffolk in today's Times:
And what has all this to do with public policy, the world crisis, and all the other stuff you are meant to read about on The Times Opinion pages? I will tell you. First of all, watching that day of mildly lawless yet constructive and sensible salvage, and hearing it set against a background of official warnings and bossings and safety angst, I understood something more strongly than ever before. For any government to work in any area of life, it must latch on to these public qualities of self-reliance, effort, ingenuity and willingness to do the obvious thing - clear up the mess of unforeseen events and use what's in front of you. British and European government, of late, does not do that. It sets up too many rules and forms, and trusts us too little.The want of official courage is failing us all. The fear of litigation, the fear of ministerial disapproval, and a culture of institutionalised risk aversion taken to the nth degree results in an overweening State culture of mistrust that wastes the natural talents, resourcefulness, tenacity and capabilities of the British people. Now, more than ever, must we work to reverse this corrosive and destructive official cowardice.