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Government in Action

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Scared-y Cat Brits: In June the Peterborough City Council ordered retirees who come together for weekly coffee at the public library to give up hot drinks, in case one accidentally spilled on a child.

In July the Dagenham Pool in Essex, citing (according to the manager) drowning risks, banned swimmers from doing "lengths" and forced them instead to swim "widths."

In June the Brighton and Hove City Council ordered nature-lover Hilaire Purbrick, 45, out of the cave that has been his residence for 16 years, citing its lack of a "fire exit."

In April, the Pelham (Mass.) Board of Selectmen notified residents that it proposed to "alter a (four-mile) portion of Amherst Road" and needed their co-operation. The board said the road, in service with exactly the same contour since 1822, must better conform to what Amherst Road looked like on an 1822 map. Thus, some property owners along the route were asked to cede some rights to the government to un-modernize the road. 

Among the personal tasks allegedly demanded by Portsmouth (Va.) mayor James Holley of his public-payroll assistant Lorraine Stokes (from a list Stokes released in August, alleging Holley's abuse): affixing labels to boxes identifying Holley's assorted-color argyle socks; placing orders for "tummy support T-shirts" and "90-minute abs" videos; and locating retailers for his favorite English Leather cologne, Stri-Vectin Cream (for "turkey neck"), geese repellant, T. Barry underwear, grass seeds and Gillette hair paste.

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