Your guide to organising a street party

What sort of events does this guidance apply to?

This is about the sort of street parties that groups of residents get together to arrange with their neighbours.

The main differences between a small private street party and other public events are listed below.

Street partiesOther public events
Only for residents/neighboursAnyone can attend
Publicity only for residentsExternal publicity (such as online or posters)
In a quiet residential road, block of flats or local green spaceIn buildings, parks etc
Self-organisedProfessional/skilled organisers
Normally no insuranceInsurance needed
No formal risk assessment neededRisk assessment common
No licences normally necessary unless the sale of alcohol is involvedLicence usually needed

How to organise a street party

Organising a street party just for residents and neighbours is very simple and does not need a licence. Torfaen Council may require you to complete a simple application form to hold a street party. You can find the information here.

The number one tip for holding a party is to plan early and to share jobs out amongst residents. If you need a temporary road closure, get in touch with your council at least 6 weeks in advance. 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.

More helpful tips, advice and support for organising a successful event can be found on The Big Lunch website where you can request a free Big Lunch pack for organisers, and also on the Street Party website.

MYTH 1: IT’S TOO DIFFICULT AND CONFUSING
Street Party and The Big Lunch have great websites to help you plan. You can also use GOV.UK to access local information and contact details for more advice (enter your postcode at: Apply to hold a street party).
You should not need a risk assessment – as long as consideration is given to the safety needs of all those attending, common sense precautions should be enough.
A street party doesn’t need to be complicated; everyone can bring something, and you can ask a few neighbours to share the organising so it isn’t too much for one person and helps to build a sense of ownership by all.
 
MYTH 2: YOU NEED A LICENCE
The Licensing Act 2003 does not require a music licence at a street party unless amplified music is one of the main purposes of the event.
However, if you plan to sell alcohol you will need to check whether you need a Temporary Events Notice. This is a temporary permission for licensable activities which currently costs £21 and covers events of fewer than 500 people, including anyone helping to run the event.
For more information or to make an application, please contact your local licensing authority by entering your postcode at Temporary Events Notice.
 
MYTH 3: THE LAW REQUIRES COMPLEX FORMS FOR A ROAD CLOSURE AND COUNCILS NEED TO SIGN OFF EVERY DETAIL
For most small parties in quiet streets and where you need to close a road, all your council needs to know is where and when the road closure will take place (if you need one) so they can plan around it (for example, so emergency services know). They will need around 6 weeks’ advance notice as they will need to put in place a temporary traffic regulation order.
If councils really need more information, they will contact organisers, but they are expected to take a ‘light touch’ approach. If your council asks for excessive information, you should challenge them.
Alternatively, you can keep the road open and organise a gathering or ‘Street Meet’ on private land, such as a driveway or front garden, without any requirement to fill in council forms. Residents should speak to their council about plans. The Street Party site has some excellent guidance on how to hold a Street Meet.
 
MYTH 4: THE LAW REQUIRES A FEE TO BE CHARGED FOR A ROAD CLOSURE
The law allows councils to charge for the cost of arranging a traffic regulation order for a road closure and some of them may charge a small fee, although they are not required to do this and are encouraged not to. If your council is making a charge, you have every right to question what those charges are for and to check they are reasonable.
 
MYTH 5: IT’S TOO LATE TO ASK FOR A ROAD CLOSURE
Some councils set deadlines to help them manage their work, which is why it’s best to ask six weeks in advance. But there are no deadlines in law, so if they seem unreasonable ask your council to be flexible. If you can’t or don’t want to close your road, you could plan a simpler Street Meet at short notice (see Myth 3 above).
 
MYTH 6: YOU NEED TO BUY EXPENSIVE ROAD SIGNS
Some local councils will lend you signs and cones, or you can hire or buy signs. Both Street Party and The Big Lunch websites have advice on road closures.
 
MYTH 7: YOU NEED EXPENSIVE INSURANCE
There is no requirement from central government to have public liability insurance. Many councils may recommend it but do not insist on it so you should challenge those who do.
If you think insurance would be a good idea, have a look at the advice on the Street Party site and The Big Lunch website and shop around. The Big Lunch have negotiated special rates for street party insurance starting at just £28, which can be split between people attending, or you could ask for donations to cover the costs.
 
MYTH 8: YOU NEED A FOOD LICENCE
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has confirmed that one-off events such as street parties aren’t usually considered food businesses, so there are no forms to fill in. However, you must ensure that any food provided is safe to eat.
The FSA website provides more advice about providing safe food at street parties and other community events. The NHS website has practical tips on how to prepare and cook food safely.
 
MYTH 9: YOU NEED A LICENCE TO RUN A RAFFLE OR LOTTERY
You do not have to register a lottery (which includes raffles, sweepstakes and tombolas) if you are running an ‘incidental lottery’, but tickets must be sold at the event and prizes cannot be rolled over from one event to another.
Anyone at the event (including children) can take part in this sort of lottery. No more than £100 can be deducted from the proceeds of the lottery to cover the expenses incurred in organising the lottery (e.g. ticket printing), and no more than £500 can be spent on prizes (not including donated prizes).
The Gambling Commission’s website has more information about running a lottery.
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