The Government's recent announcement that it's slashing council red tape to bring down the price of road closures, is great news for anyone planning to celebrate Prince William and Kate Middleton's big day with a street party.
Because of complex legislation over road closures, anyone thinking of organizing a street party was previously facing a price tag, 'as high as £3,000', claims Chris Gittins from 'Streets Alive', a group promoting street parties. But thanks to Government intervention, 'this is now down to around £30 - £80'.
The Transport Secretary Philip Hammond has announced he will be writing to local councils instructing them to cut back on potentially prohibitive red tape, which could have seen big fees charged for 'traffic management' companies to close off even the smallest roads.
Some councils, including Cambridgeshire and Gloucestershire, have already taken this one step further, announcing they're waiving all road closure charges for street party events; although official 'permission' must still be applied for from the local authority.
So in an age when most of us either don't know who our neighbours are, or are just in the habit of dashing home and locking the door, could the extra bank holiday be the perfect excuse to get out there and make some new friends?
But even if the 'feel good' spirit is alive and kicking in your community, organising a street party might not be as easy as rounding up the neighbours and going along armed with sandwiches, bubbly and your garden chairs.
Scarborough Borough Council recently produced a 20 page manual for residents with advice on organising a street party (which you can download). They're even running 'training' sessions for anyone who may not be up to speed with rules on everything from road closures and public liability insurance to health and safety issues.
So if you're thinking of going ahead what do you need to think of? First up if you're thinking of having the party down the middle of your road; you'll need to get in touch with your local council to get permission and possibly pay a, (now drastically reduced), fee.
Popping the cork on a bottle of bubbly to share is all ok; just as long as you don't start turning entrepreneur and selling it off, as this means you can run into problems with local licensing laws. 'Some local bylaws may prevent people drinking in the street,' says Matthew Joseph from Scarborough Borough Council, who advises a call to your local council first.
Collapsing tables and dodgy chairs seem to be another potential minefield. 'It's just the same as having a dinner party at home' says Mr Joseph, 'If a chair collapsed and a guest was injured would they sue you?' So the advice is to consider public liability insurance; which can be organised through your local council and provides blanket cover for potentially awkward situations like this costing around £45 a time.
Funny enough when I think back to my childhood memories of our 'Silver Jubilee' street party back in 1977 with my Mum and Dad, along with everyone else in the street, carrying out sandwiches and carting along our own tables and chairs, (before the rain come down and we had to decamp to the local scout hut), I don't remember anyone reading a 'health and safety' manual first; it was all just about having fun.
Will you be having a street party?
Do you remember what you did for the Silver Jubilee?
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