Tuesday 12 April 2011

Street party myths

  • That the law requires complex forms for a road closure and councils need to sign off every detail. For most small parties in quiet streets, all your council needs to know is where and when the closure will take place so they can plan around this (for example, so emergency services know). And you can organise a street party or 'Street Meet' in another space such as a local park without any requirement to fill in council forms. If councils really need more information, they will contact organisers. If councils ask for excessive information, they should be challenged.
  • That you need insurance. There is no requirement from central government to have public liability insurance. Many councils do not insist on it, so you can challenge those who do.
  • That you need a food license. Again there is no requirement for this.
  • The law requires a fee to be charged for a road closure. The Department for Transport has scrapped guidance that was being used by councils as an excuse to charge people wanting to close their road. Many councils will charge nothing for Royal Wedding street parties. If your council is charging, you have every right to challenge them.
  • It's too late to ask for a road closure. Some councils have set deadlines to help them manage their work. But there are no requirements in law so if those deadlines look unreasonable, ask your council to be flexible. You may be able to organise a 'Street Meet' - a gathering in a park, driveway or cul-de-sac. Residents should speak to their council about plans and Streets Alive have some excellent guidance on how to do this: www.streetparty.org.uk/residents/street-meet.aspx (external link).
  • You need to buy expensive road signs. Some local councils will lend you signs and cones.
  • It's too difficult and confusing. Streets Alive has a great website to help you plan and people can also use DirectGov to access local information and contact details for further advice. (by entering postcode at the DirectGov website).
  • You need an entertainment licence. Some councils argue that you need a licence for live entertainment - that's not the case.The Licensing Act 2003 (external link) explicitly exempts garden fetes "and functions or events of a similar character" from being regarded as the provision of regulated entertainment, provided the proceeds of the event are not used for the purposes of private gain.

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