There was lots of coverage yesterday suggesting that those holding street parties to celebrate the Royal Wedding would have to pay hundreds of pounds for Traffic Management professionals and professional made road closure signs. This particular hare was set running as the Press Association has a reporter in Shepreth in Cambridgeshire where there have been these difficulties.
Butt what the reports didn't make clear was that these onerouss requirements only apply to a street party on a main road. I think there has been some confusion over the definition of "through road" – some thinking it means any road that isn't a cul-de-sac. But it is actually meant to apply to the main routes for traffic in a district – not the ordinary little streets that most of us live in. Really it is for the highways departments in our Town halls to apply common sense.
When I rang Cambridgeshire County Council they emphasised that they had already agreed to "lots" of requests for street parties without charging any fee. The problem for Shepreth was wanting to close the main road. This was not a problem under the 2004 Traffic Management Act (which had been reported) but under the Traffic Signs Manual. Maybe the council could be more flexible and decide to define the relevant road in Shepreth as not being a main through road. Not having been to Shrepreth it is hard to judge. But it would be a pity if the coverage put people off holding street parties elsewhere on the false assumption that they would have to pay a huge fee.
My own council in Hammersmith and Fulhamis not charging any fee for those holding a street party. No insurance is required. No risk assessment. No hiring of Traffic Management professionals. We have an online form to fill in. Essentially to get your road closed for the party you need to confirm that you have knocked on the door of everyone in your street (including any shop keepers) and found general agreement. We also need people to hire barriers to close the street (which costs £12.75 from HSS.)
But apart from avoiding being a block on the celebrations, should councils do anything positive? Should there be events put on in local parks? After all these needn't cost anything but might be a source of revenue if firms were allowed to set up stalls selling food and drink. What about having activities involving children? Perhaps an art competition where children at all the local schools are invited to send in a picture on a Royal Wedding related theme. There could be a prize for younger children and another for older children.
What is your council doing?