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Street Party - Meet Your Neighbours in Your Traffic Free Street
 

Councils' Guide to street parties

A Guide to help residents to organise street parties
to meet their neighbours

This Guide applies to simple street parties organised by residents in a single residential street without external publicity. Larger public events in more streets require other arrangements.

Why have a street party?

Street parties are a good way for residents to meet their neighbours. This is the rock on which communities are built. The events can be held anytime, not only for national celebration days. Most people attend, mixing all ages and backgrounds, and the events are usually selforganised and funded.

Street parties build communities by:

  • supporting social cohesion between ethnic and cultural backgrounds and age groups
  • reducing fear of neighbours
  • reducing fear of crime and may reduce crime through watchful neighbours
  • perhaps reducing anti-social behaviour
  • giving children a chance to play together in their street for a day

With busy, independent lives people have fewer chances to meet. It feels good to know the people around you, rather than being strangers. Council tenant groups find street parties a good way to meet.

There is something special about having an event right outside your house. The street is a shared public space, open to all and normally the cars get in the way. With the road closed to traffic, people can mingle easily. Street parties can lead to residents taking action on road safety, parking and travel issues, as well as community safety etc.

Streets Alive believes that street parties can become widespread and common so developing neighbourliness across the country. This is why we are involving and promoting them to all interested agencies, including councils.

In particular, Streets Alive provides support, training, consultancy and project management to councils on all matter relating to street parties.

This Guide applies to simple street parties organised by residents in a single residential street without external publicity. Larger public events in more streets require other arrangements.

The role of Councils

The council services shown below can play a small but important role in making the task of organising the event easy for residents. This is important as in many urban communities confidence is low and small barriers can put organisers off, particularly for their first event.

This guidance suggests ways of simplifying procedures and providing limited support for street parties to be organised by residents. Our Guide for Residents helps them to keep their own arrangements simple, inclusive and safe.

Road closures

The council traffic management team responsible for road closures have a key role to play. Though building communities is not their main task, their procedures are critical in supporting residents make the necessary arrangements. As the first and main contact by residents, they often deal with the needs of or pass onto the other relevant council services.

Best practice in the procedure would include:

  • Simple and accessible road closure application form e.g. on your council website.
  • Standardised Traffic Regulation Order procedure, limiting work by legal services.
  • Reduce officer time by requiring residents to consult neighbours, as well as the fire and ambulance services, and to display the order.
  • No charges for the road closure service. The income from charges are very modest for the council, but any charge for residents in a first time street party is a deterrent to confidence, especially in poorer areas.
  • Require residents to provide, erect and supervise road signs and barriers. Suggest where they may borrow signs (eg from council contractors), or hire or buy them.
  • Providing information about and signposting to other relevant council services.

Best practice examples

Bristol City Council uses the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 for about 85 street parties a year. Their simple application form requires only 6 weeks notice and they do not charge residents as each application only takes a total of about 2.5 hours of officer time. Their application form can be seen at: http://www.bristol.gov.uk/page/events. They do not require insurance as they use a conditions clause in the application form.

Many Councils that use the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 (Sec. 16A Special Events) do not charge for making the order or process; Lincolnshire CC, Hounslow and Camden boroughs in London. Their procedures are simple and also do not require insurance.

See more information on Road Closures and news.

Insurance

Streets Alive believes that most small street parties should not require public liability insurance. See our detailed advice which explains this. We recommend the use of conditions, disclaimer / indemnity clauses on the application form. The risks at a small street party are very low and the cost of insurance is a block for residents, though they may choose to purchase it themselves. Larger public events would need insurance.

Licensing

Streets Alive has had it confirmed by many council licensing teams that most small street parties would not require any type of license. First time street parties, especially in poorer areas, tend to be nervously arranged and the need to apply for a Temporary Event Notice (TEN) and a fee would be an obstacle.

Sale of alcohol, food or indeed anything, does not usually happen as they are usually provided free by residents on a bring-to-share basis.

There is sometimes some form of 'performance' by an amateur resident or by children. But this is normally 'incidental' to the event and there is normally no money involved and the public outside the street is not invited as there is no publicity. The 'performance' is not the main focus or the reason for the event and music is background for the day.

However, should the event include the sale of alcohol or food, or include a publicised programme of performance then appropriate licences/notices would be required.

If these issues are explained in conditions in the street party application then the residents can decide how to proceed.

Noise control

Noise is potentially a problematic issue at even small street parties. Usually, this does not become a problem as residents manage to negotiate amongst themselves. We recommend limiting the time and volume and suggest ideally acoustic live music as tastes of music style, volume and lateness vary widely.

Best practice example

Bristol City Council Pollution Control team provide a guidance note on noise that is sent out with the Road Closure Application.

Cleansing

It is rare for the cleaning of the road after a street party to be a problem as it is on residents' own door step, though sometimes there can be a short delay. However, awareness can be enhanced by including it as a condition in the road closure application. One particular issue we advise residents against is the use of household paints.

Community development

Community workers and regeneration teams can play a role in encouraging residents to organise street parties for all the beneficial reasons mentioned above. See our Guide for Community Workers for further details.

Streets Alive provides advice and training to local authority community development and regeneration teams on how to support residents.

Our approach is very light-touch and involves giving only information and encouragement. This ensures that the events remain fully in the ownership of residents and they gain the skills and confidence to repeat them.

Housing Teams

Various housing officers often have a role in promoting neighbourliness. Events in courtyards and greens, as well as street parties, can be very useful for people to meet and talk about local issues. The events may reduce isolation and fear and improve community safety. But achieving a high turn out over 50% is not easy and Streets Alive can help you improve on this.

Events Team

Some councils have an Events Team which has the role of working with residents to find their way through other council services. A key role they can play is to adapt and minimise all procedures appropriate to the complexity of the event.

Councillors

Councillors can support street parties by encouraging the various services above to make things simple for residents. Also, not having any charges would encourage residents, especially from poorer areas and for their first event.

Street Alive services

Streets Alive provides advice, training, consultancy and project management services to councils on all matter relating to street parties. Please ask for further details.

About Streets Alive

Streets Alive is a charitable group which promotes culturally thriving communities through traffic-free street events. This includes street parties and car free days. See our website www.streetsalive.org.uk.

Important note: This advice is to help in planning an event, but it is not intended to constitute a complete list of organisational arrangements, responsibilities or liabilities for the planning of a street party or event. Streets Alive Ltd. recommends that professional advice is sought if organisers are in any doubt.

Download the
Street Party Guide for Councils (235 KB)
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