Focus area: Volunteer events
Regulator concerned: My comments are general and do not relate to a particular regulator or regulatory function
In May 2011 our community group, made up of volunteers, co-ordinated a Celebration in a city suburb which involved closing the shopping street, which is a spur off an A road out of the city. Here’s what we learned:
Who to apply to
1. Processions: The district council. The Licensing Department has the power to agree road closures for processions such as Remembrance Day Parades under the Town Police Clauses Act 1847. These should be short (up to about 90 minutes) and bear in mind that if they are on a major through road/bus route the county council will need to be consulted. Cost £150.
2. More than a procession: County Highways has the power to agree a longer closure. This costs £1400 to process. Closures on main roads, particularly those involving bus routes, are unlikely to be agreed.
Will we need to employ a Traffic Management Service?
Someone will need to arrange for diversion signs which meet nationally agreed standards to be put up, some of them including details specific to your event. Metal freestanding signs usually comply with these standards. For several days prior to the event you will need a metal sign up warning cars that the closure will be happening. You will also need barriers or cones to block off the road and ‘road closed’ signs. The diversion signs will need to be put out a few hours before the event and removed immediately afterwards. The cones will need to be put in place on the dot when the road closure begins and removed immediately it ends.
For a small closure on a less busy road this may be relatively simple to arrange, but if there will need to be several diversion options and complex signage you may be required by Highways to employ a Traffic Management Service. For our event this cost £485 and we arranged it through Highways own buy-in service. The team were wonderful and it was a huge relief not to have to arrange these independently. A team of 2 men arrived with signs early in the morning to set up – they brought cones and put them out themselves at the start of the closure, and took them away at the end. The cost of hiring barriers and signs, and having bespoke signs made up, would have come to at least the £485 (barriers alone cost £110).
Applying for a procession: this takes 56 days to agree after the paperwork has been received. The paperwork needed before applying will take approximately 2 months ontop of this to allow bus companies, the police etc. to respond if the closure will affect a significant through road or a bus route.
Bear in mind that you will not be able to advertise the event until this has been agreed – apply very early.
Also bear in mind that you may send all these documents and pay £150 but then be unsuccessful. If your road includes a bus route and/or is a busy through road / has a complex junction at one end it would be useful to talk to County Highways before applying as they have the power to object to the application even if the district are willing to agree.
You will need to provide:
1. A completed application form
2. A map showing where the closure will be (Google maps marked to show where barriers will be)
3. A map showing where the diversion signs will go. If you’ve decided to employ a Traffic Management Service this can be done by them, but it means deciding on this very early on, and before the closure has been agreed. The alternative is to use your common sense and then review the plan with the Traffic Management Company once you’ve got the council’s agreement.
4. A map showing alternative bus routes where this applies. Check carefully to see which buses go from the stops on your road. You need to communicate with the managers of the companies involved and you need to get an agreement in writing either by email or letter to send with your closure application. Either send them a couple of maps showing alternative options or, of there’s only one common sense solution, send them that. Check with the company (either at this point or when you have an agreement) to see whether they will be taking responsibility for alerting passengers to the changes through notices on the affected bus stops saying which are the nearest alternatives. For a short closure the bus companies are highly unlikely to arrange new bus stops – passengers will need to walk to the one before or the one after. Avoid starting the road closure at 9.30am. Passengers with bus passes can only catch a bus after 9.30am – better to start after the first bus has gone if possible so that those who are keen to leave with a bus pass can get away.
5. Copy of consultations: You need to consult with anyone affected before applying. This will be anyone who will be unable to move their vehicles during the closure, and anyone whose business will be unable to function as usual (accessing deliveries etc). Residents and businesses included. In the consultation document outline hen the closure will be, what it is for, who will be affected, any bus route changes, etc. We asked people to contact us with any problems they could foresee by email or letter and gave them plenty of time to respond. Three people replied to ask how they could help – no one objected. Send a copy of the consultation document and the responses you received.
6. Public Liability Insurance of at least £3million. We have annual insurance costing £300 for £5million. It is possible to buy one-off insurance but it is likely to cost almost as much as this. Include evidence of your insurance with the application.
7. Evidence of having consulted with the police if the road closure will affect a significant through road or a bus route: we were fortunate in having police officers and PCSOs attending our various meetings. If this is not the case send details of the proposal with plans, including alternative bus routes, to the Senior Traffic Management Officer, Traffic Management Section, at the county council.
8. A risk assessment showing how you will prevent any accidents or injuries during the event. This needs to include items such as:
a. limited access for emergency vehicles (emergency services will be informed) of closure & marshals will be told to allow through to attend emergencies within the closed area if the need arises. Walkie talkies for marshals to communicate between each other.
b. Litter causing trip hazards, slips, cuts (clear first)
c. Anti-social behaviour, overcrowding (marshals in place, first aid arranged, police informed, phone 999 if necessary, PCSOs available – if this is the case, procession stops if anti-social behaviour is putting people at risk)
d. Severe weather (procession cancelled or moved indoors)
e. Suspect packages (marshals to contact each other to inform, phone emergency services, move people away)
f. Drug paraphernalia (marshals report to co-ordinators, emergency service informed, client service or key co-ordinator removes safely using suitable equipment)
g. Gas leaks (marshals arrange evacuation)
h. Crime (marshals & any PCSOs on alert – keep an eye on car parks)
i. Procession leads to people bumping into each other (all children under the charge of an adult, marshals ensuring no speeding up)
j. Child abduction (insist all children accompanied by an adult who takes responsibility)
k. Costumes/flags etc. harm others (ensure flags, costumes etc. do not have pointing end, sharp edges)
l. Onlookers get in the way of procession and cause stumbling (marshals make sure onlookers stay on pavement)
9. Event Plan: not required but it’s a helpful document to show that you’ve thought everything through.
Include information such as: date; time; contact details; location; core team; marshals – when and how many; Police support (have they been in on the planning – can they offer any support); Health & Safety/RIDDOR contacts (2 names who will contact the authorities if someone’s badly injured & follow RIDDOR procedures); Health & Safety Policy attached; Safeguarding Policy attached; expected attendance (under 499 if possible – after that the legislation gets more problematic); how will crowd control be organised (marshals on alert to stop everything if there’s a problem – police informed); emergency vehicle access (marshals ensure this is possible); first aid cover; contact details on the day (venues, bus service if affected, RIDDOR, etc); licenses applied for; insurance cover (public liability); risk assessment attached.
What happens next?
Your application is checked through by Licensing and any queries necessary are made. It is then taken to a committee of the borough council. Before it is discussed the borough council will contact County Highways to check whether they have any objections or concerns. They will also contact the fire service.
If the borough council say yes
You will need to comply fully with everything you have committed to in the event plan and risk assessment, and with the diversion signs.
The agreement may come with conditions – the May Celebration was agreed provided a Traffic Management Service was employed and we paid the costs of Highways advertising the closure to emergency services etc. (usually £350)
10 days before the event the borough council will put out signs on lamp posts (A4 laminated) to inform people that the closure is under the Town Police Clauses Act 1847.
You need to:
1. Brief marshals thoroughly – they need walkie talkies
2. Put signs on bus stops if the bus companies are choosing not to – saying when the bus will not be available and where the nearest stops are as alternatives
3. Double check with the Traffic Management Service that their plan for signs and cones matches what you’ve agreed with residents and businesses
4. Send a reminder to the fire service
5. Send information to the Ambulance Service
You might also need to think about:
Street Collection Permit – at least 28 days in advance
This is free but you need to apply if you will be collection for charity in the open air. Forms are available from borough Licensing website (easy to complete). You will need sealable containers for collecting to comply with the regulations – sometimes available from the charity you are collecting for. Stakeholders had a set of 10 available to borrow for use with your own charity. It’s worth applying well in advance because another charity might also want to collect on that road on that day. There is a form to fill in after the event.
PRS licence – at least 14 days in advance
This allows you (or someone in your procession) to perform live music, or if you will have background music playing. The cost for a procession in May 2011 was approx. £50 but PRS for music can reduce this for charities and the May Procession was given a 50% discount. Fill in a form to apply, and to request a charity reduction, here:
The license is linked to the venue and not the performers – in this case the venue is the road.
If you are granted a discount you will be expected to send them photos; to put up posters (they will send you these) acknowledging their support; acknowledge them in any programmes etc.
Temporary Events Notice
For any venue where there will be live music or background music which is part of the reason people are there (rather than simply incidental). The form is available from the borough council Licensing website and needs to be returned at least 10 working days (watch out for bank holidays) in advance. Complete 3 copies of the form and send 2 along with £21. Send one copy to the police addressed to the Chief of Police. In the police envelope include a poster or information sheet about what will be involved, and if any local community police have been involved include a note about this as well. If there is any likelihood that the event might be seen as a risk for anti-social behaviour, or in need of extra policing, allow plenty of time to iron out any concerns.
A TEN is also needed for any event which will run late into the evening, any which will include alcohol (you will need to check for extra legalities linked to this) or any using recorded music which forms part of a performance.
The TEN is issued in the name of the person who applies and only 5 TENs are allowed per person per year.
The venue the TEN is linked to the application and the particular venue can only have 12 TENs per year. For community buildings it is often worth arranging for one individual to have a Personal License linked to that one venue which allows up to 50 events per year, though this is a longer process and involves advertising the application to local residents etc.
The right to have stalls on the pavements: This is a particular issue for any events within six and three quarter miles of Leicester Market, which has an ancient Charter allowing it to block plans for ‘markets’ within this area. Five stalls constitute a market under the charter. If the market is commercial there is a fee to pay of several hundred pounds. This is less for charities. Shops spilling out onto the pavement with goods to draw customers in also constitute a market if there are more than 5. Applications can be turned down if Leicester Market has a special event on the same day, and they can also limit the number of markets in the suburbs within one year. When we phoned the market it was very difficult finding someone who knew about the charter and could point us in the right direction.
Getting permission to use the pavements: From what we could gather the first metre coming out from any shop belongs to the landlord/owner. The rest belongs to County Highways. You need to ask for their permission to have any tables, stalls etc. on the pavements. As a general rule this will be affected by whether there are bike racks etc. on the pavement and whether there will still be 1.8m clearance after the table/stall has been put in place. BUT not every section of pavement belongs to Highways. In some wider areas the landlord owns more. Generally it is best to ask inside the shop if you would like to add a stall outside and they will know who to ask. It may be that the shopkeeper is the person who has the right to veto the stall going ahead.
First aid cover: For bigger events you will need professional first aid cover (rather than a member of the team who has done first aid training). The Red Cross and St John’s can be booked online but need to be contacted at least 8 weeks in advance. At our event St John’s cost £86. They will need a walkie talkie as if they are walking round you will need to contact them in an emergency.
Food Hygiene: The application for a road closure for an event, or for a TEN, is likely to trigger contact with the Environmental Health team at the borough council. You will need to be able to reassure them that food hygiene standards are being complied with. See http://www.hse.gov.uk/news/royal-wedding/index.htm