What does the law say about holding a street party?
The Queen’s Jubilee Celebration is fast approaching and we are all looking forward to joining in with the celebrations. Many people across the UK will be celebrating with a fun-filled street party but what do you need to consider in preparation for the big day?
Jennifer Cellupica at DAS Law has considered some of the important factors when it comes to organising your street party.
What permits/approvals do I need to close my road and hold a street party?
Street parties can be better if the road is closed as more people may join in and it would be safer if there is no traffic for the day. If you wish to close your road, you will need to contact your local council around 4 – 12 weeks prior to your event to obtain permission.
If you live on a quiet road that does not affect the wider network, your local council may waive the need to get permission to close it. However, local councils’ processes may differ from area to area so it is always worth double checking with your council.
Your first point of contact could be either the council’s highways, licensing, events or communities team. If you encounter any difficulties speak to your local councillor who will be happy to help.
You will need to advise them of the following:
- The date and time of your party
- Whether or not you wish to close the road and the name of the road
- If the road is part of a bus route or used by through traffic
- A list of any properties or businesses that may be affected
- Whether or not you have consulted the neighbours
Some councils may lend you signs and/ or cones to close off the road or you may need to hire or buy signs depending on your local council.
You will also need to ensure that if needs be, emergency services can still get down the street, therefor you may also need to contact the emergency services to let them know of the closure. Some councils however, will do this for you.
If your road is on a bus route, you may also need to contact the bus companies to let them know of the closure but again, your local council may do this for you.
If you have any questions or queries, the best thing to do is contact your local council to confirm what you need to do and how to do it.
What are the rules regarding drinking alcohol in a street party? Do I need a permit or licence from the local council?
Under the Licensing Act 2003; licensable activities are defined as:
- The sale by retail of alcohol,
- The supply of alcohol by or on behalf of a club to, or to the order of, a member of the club
- The provision of regulated entertainment
- The provision of late night refreshment
Therefore, if you are looking to serve alcohol for free or give alcohol away as prizes, for example in a raffle, then you do not need a license. In order to sell alcohol, you will need to apply for a ‘temporary events notice’ from your local council (a fee will apply).
You will need to bear in mind however, that the police could intervene in the presence of anti-social behaviour as a result of alcohol consumption and you can be stopped, fined or arrested by police if you are under 18 and drinking alcohol in public or if you are found to be purchasing for or providing alcohol to a minor.
The Anti-Social behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 defines anti-social behaviour as:
- Conduct that has caused, or is likely to cause, harassment, alarm or distress to any person
- Conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to a person in relation to that person’s occupation of residential premises
- Conduct capable of causing housing-related nuisance or annoyance to any person
Do I need permission from all my neighbours to hold a street party? If just one neighbour objects to the party, does that mean the party cannot go ahead?
It is always a good idea to notify your neighbours and anyone who the party may affect, for example other local residents or local businesses, about your plans to organise a street party. You can offer for neighbours to get involved with the organisation of the party and to give the opportunity for your neighbours to object or raise concerns with your plans.
You could hold a street meeting with all the neighbours prior to organising the event in order to make sure everyone is happy for the event to go ahead and to allocate jobs to those who would like to get involved in organising the party. You could even run a poll and ask your neighbours to vote whether they would like to have a party or if not, what are their reasons.
It is always better to keep a good relationship with your neighbours but it would be a shame if one person spoils the fun for everyone else. It may be worth having a chat with anyone who objects to the party to find out the reasons why they object so you can understand their concerns and come up with a solution. For example, if a neighbour is concerned that there will be loud music until late, ensure that the party will be wrapped up within the time as advised by law.
Is there a particular time any music will have to stop?
Generally speaking, no. However, the Noise Act 1996 defines a maximum amount of noise which is acceptable between the hours of 11pm and 7am and when noise exceeds the permitted level, the local authority are able to investigate and even take action against the source of the noise following a report of the noise or complaint.
In order to err on the side of caution, it may be best to stop the music between 11pm and 7am.
It is worth mentioning that the law covers any noise, not just music so if people are making a lot of noise in the street after 11pm or before 7pm, for example shouting or speaking loudly, the local authority could still take action against the person/ people making the noise following a complaint. Local Authorities likely prefer to rely on the Noise Act 1996 as they can serve a notice to stop the noise immediately following a complaint and investigation.
Under Section 79(1)(a) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, loud music could constitute a nuisance if it affects the enjoyment and use of property of an individual. This means that the Local Authority or any person affected by the nuisance can bring a statutory nuisance claim. Furthermore, a private nuisance claim is also actionable in Tort Law which means a claimant can take civil proceedings for damages also known as compensation for the interference with their quiet enjoyment of their land – as set out in the case Hunter V Canary Wharf. In cases where the nuisance is ongoing, claimants can also look to seek injunctive relief but that element may not be relevant in this scenario.
Do I need any special insurance for activities such as bouncy castles and play areas etc.?
You don’t need to have a special insurance for these types of activities. However, it is always best to ask for the details of any liability insurance of the companies or people providing any activities just in case someone is injured whilst enjoying the activities.
Could I be held legally liable if anyone is injured at the party or causes damage to public property?
In order for you to be held liable if anyone sustains an injury at your party, they would need to prove that you have been negligent in some way. There are 3 elements of negligence that would need to be evidenced. That you have a duty of care to the person, you have breached that duty of care and your breach has caused the injury.
In England and Wales, a parent or carer are not generally held liable for the injury of a child in their care unless they have been negligent in allowing the child to do something which could cause an injury or failure to prevent the child from doing something that could cause them injury.
Generally speaking, if someone causes damage to public property, the same as above applies. The person that has caused the damage would usually be liable for their actions. However, as above, if a child is in your care and they damage public property, you could be held liable in certain circumstances and this would depend on the specific circumstances in which the damage has occurred.
Disclaimer: This information is for general guidance regarding rights and responsibilities and is not formal legal advice as no lawyer-client relationship has been created.