I went to a London Councils meeting yesterday where the agenda included a report on planned celebrations for the 2012 Diamond Jubilee. It included a list of what happened in London boroughs for the Golden Jubilee in 2002. (Greenwich seems to have held the most street parties with 47.)
Wandsworth leader Cllr Edward Lister raised the need for the Government to reduce bureaucracy on street parties. His own Council has already done what they can.
Looking at the DCLG guidance it does seem that a lot of the trouble is local authority gold plating of the requirements. Councils do not need to ask for a risk assessment, or public liability insurance. Councils do not need to advertise road closures or carry out a consultation. A Temporary Event Licence is not required for the serving of alcohol (only if it is sold.) A licence is not required to serve food (even if sold.) An entertainment licence is not required for playing music. Permission is not required to sell raffle tickets.
What is required is, reasonably enough, is confirmation that most residents in the street approve of the party taking place (I guess like a petition) and that there is an alternative route for traffic and space for emergency vehicles to get through.
The previous guidance had been (or at least had been interpreted as) onerous. A report last year from Living Streets, entitled No Ball Games Here, said:
Street parties are a wonderful way to become more engaged with your neighbours. However many highway authorities demand that expensive public liability insurance (which can cost thousands of pounds) be secured prior to any events taking place, as well as many other bureaucratic hoops that applicants have to jump through. This is totally unnecessary for small scale residential street parties: we want to see ‘party pooper’ barriers such as these removed. Specifically, the Advice on temporary Traffic Regulation Orders under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 (16A) for small street parties must be amended. For example, currently it recommends that costly advertisements are placed in local newspapers to advertise the minor road closures – sometimes landing residents with an unrealistic bill of up to £2,000.
Now the guidance has been clarified it is important for Town Halls not to put their own unnecessary obstacles in the way. For instance Richmond talks about requiring eight weeks notice (other councils think three or four weeks is enough.) Richmond require public liability insurance and makes fiddly tiresome demands such as: "Banners or bunting ACROSS the street are not to be erected without the special permission of the council."