It’s a natural reaction to be scared of spiders, mice, bats and all small creepy creatures. The final episode of The Hotel included a hilarious scene when several housekeepers ran screaming when they saw a baby bat crawling along the corridor of the Damson Dene Hotel. I said at the time that it was a racing certainty that we would hear from some do-gooder pointing out that it is a criminal offence to harm a bat and sure enough, to my great amusement we did. They said, completely seriously, that we should have a programme in place to train our staff how to deal with bats.
What these idiots don’t appreciate is that the whole of Cumbria and much of the UK is alive with bats and that the laws to protect them do more harm than good. How much harm has become apparent this week when a stray bat brought down a bank. The unfortunate bank is the Southsea Bank, based in Havant. The bank’s chairman, Bernard Stanley, explained that the bank had lent money to a property company, which was converting a building into 10 apartments- “We were very unlucky. Some chap from Natural Heritage happened to be passing when a bat flew out. Because of this construction of the flats was stopped for six months. No bats were found, but by the time the apartments were completed the market had gone flat”. The failure of the property company led to the collapse of the bank, which the government has refused to bail out. There will be compensation from the taxpayer for all depositors with balances up to £85,000, but any deposits over that amount will be lost. Which means that some people have lost most of their life savings. Even that, I’m sure, isn’t enough to wipe the smile of self satisfaction from the face of the man from Natural Heritage.