Legislation changes for special events on Roads
Until now roads have been closed by police using general policing powers.
From 4th September 2017 new legislation to allow ‘special events ‘to be held on roads is now in place. The new legislation provides the relevant authority the power to authorise and approve, by order, the holding of a special event such as a street party or sporting event on a road.
In most cases the relevant authority will be the Council in which the specific road is located. The exceptions being any event proposed for a special road, which are mainly motorways, for which the Department for Infrastructure is responsible, (motorways).
The Department of Infrastructure has worked closely with District Councils and the Police in the preparation of guidance to assist in the implementation of the legislation.
Prospective applicants for events should within this Council District should contact Derry City and Strabane District Council to explore the possibility of holding an event.
The legislation provides a framework for assessing applications and requires that an Order is made before a special event can be held.
‘The Department’ means the ‘Department for Infrastructure’
‘Notice’ means a notice placed in at least one local newspaper by the relevant authority when it is minded to grant the application. It gives details of the proposed event, its location and invites written representation on it.
‘Order’ means an order issued by the ‘relevant authority’ to prohibit or restrict traffic from using the road to facilitate the event.
‘Public Road’ means any road which is maintained by ‘The Department’. It includes the carriageway, footway and verge.
‘Special Road’ means roads designated as such under the ‘Roads (NI) Order 1993’ SCHEDULE 1 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/nisi/1993/3160/contents
‘Relevant Authority’ is either the ‘Council’ or ‘The Department’, depending on the type of road the application is for.
‘DFI Roads’ is an agency of ‘The Department’ and exercises the Department’s function, as the road authority.
Special Events’ are defined as
- Any sporting event, social event or entertainment which is held on a public road or
- The making of a film on a public road.
Guidance on the legislation can be found via the following links:
What is a Special Event?
Special events are defined as:
(a) Any sporting event, social event or entertainment which is held on a public road; or
(b) The making of a film on a public road.
Examples of possible ‘special events’ could include:
- Fun runs/marathons etc;
- Street parties;
- Social events.
There are a number of activities which are not special events for the purposes of these arrangements. These include:
- Public processions; refer to the Parades Commission
- Motor road races; or,
- Cycle races or trials; or,
- Road works.
These are dealt with under separate legislation.
Further detail on each of these and the responsible authority is contained in Appendix 1 of the guidance in http://www.infrastructure-ni.gov.uk/publications/special-events-roads-guidance-notes-district-councils and in paragraph 1(3) of Schedule 3A https://www.legislation.gov.uk/nia/2010/14/contents
The following are specific requirements which are required before an Order can be made:
- A notice published in at least one local newspaper;
- the consent of the Department; and,
- Consultation with the police, fire and rescue service and ambulance services.
How long can a ‘Road Closure Order’ last?
There is no restriction in the legislation as to the amount of time an event can last. Council however has to be mindful that any restriction or prohibition has the potential to greatly impact on other road users including owners/occupiers of adjoining properties and should take this into consideration when assessing applications. Regular and frequent requests to close the same stretch of road, say, every week/couple of weeks would not be deemed reasonable. In addition, given that a dictionary definition of “special” is “not ordinary or usual” regular events such as those just mentioned could not be deemed to be “special”.
When deciding how long an ‘Road Closure Order’ should last, consideration must also be given to the periods immediately before and after events which may need to be covered for the erection of any staging/structures etc., practice for the event itself and for dismantling/removal of any structures/equipment.
The District Council has the power to recover the whole of the costs in connection with or in consequence of making an Order. These costs may include:
- Staff time costs;
- the cost of advertising in a local paper;
- the possible erection and maintenance of Public Notices in the general area;
- the cleansing of the area following the closure;
- any other costs in connection with or in consequence of making an Order over and above that listed above
Derry City and Strabane District Council does not charge a fee for small/community events that are non-profitable, evidence must be provided by community groups that they are legally registered as non-profit.
This may be through the offices of Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action. (N.I.C.V.A.) or registered with Derry City and Strabane District Council as a community group/organisation.
The organiser of a large/commercial type event will be required to pay £165 for each application and a further £250 for each public notice paper advertisement required. There must at least one public notice advertised in the paper and on the Council web site.
To assist District Councils and to encourage consistency in how an application for the prohibition or restriction of use of public roads should be processed, a flow chart outlining the different stages involved is included at Page 21, Appendix 3, of the following guidance http://www.infrastructure-ni.gov.uk/publications/special-events-roads-guidance-notes-district-councils
An application WILL NOT be considered received as an ‘ Official Application’, until ALL required documentation stated in the event application ‘Check List’ has been submitted. It is important that you complete and sign the event application ‘Check List’.
The timescale for processing the application will commence from the date the application is considered as an ‘Official Application’.
The following process guidance is generally written in the same sequence
Event promoters should be made aware of the separate guidance for promoters of events.
Derry City and Strabane District Council will assess the application. As part of the process Council must consult with the Department for Infrastructure (Roads), the police, the ambulance service and the fire and rescue services before it can consider permitting the use of the road for a special event. Council must be satisfied that there are no suitable off road venues for the proposed event.
Where an Order (Road Closure) only restricts or prohibits traffic using a road, the road is still a road for the purposes of other legislation. Street trading and entertainment still needs to be licensed through the Council and the consent of the Department is required should the promoter wish to erect any structures or place any equipment on the road during the event.
Derry City and Strabane District Council requires applications to be submitted at least 12 weeks prior to the date of the proposed event to accurately process them. It is important to understand that others have the right and the opportunity to comment on and make a representation to the proposal. If any such representations are made the process time will take longer than 12 weeks or indeed stop the event from taking place.
There is no provision for an appeals procedure within the legislation if permission is refused. Council will inform promoters of any refusal at an early stage and will provide an explanation of the reason for it.
With time of being fundamental, it is envisaged that promoters will discipline themselves to give Council as much notice as possible of forthcoming applications.
It is acknowledged that the film industry generally works to very short timescales, and that there may be exceptional circumstances when it may be advisable to accelerate the process, particularly bearing in mind the Executive’s desire to help promote the Northern Ireland film industry. The minimum period of 21 days for representations to be submitted following publication of a notice is however, contained in legislation and cannot be changed.
Notices in respect of proposed ‘special events’ are required to be advertised in at least one local newspaper and may be advertised on the Council’s website. This must be agreed with the Council. Council must allow a minimum of 21 days from the date of the last publication of the notice for representations. This will restrict a District Council’s capacity to respond to requests to facilitate events at short notice. Failure to obtain the requisite permissions to prohibit/restrict a road, prior to holding an event is an offence and enforcement action may be taken by the police against the promoter of that event.
Complete Application Form
Is the Application Form Complete? – All necessary information is required before the request can be considered and promoters must have signed the application form. Promoters MUST provide all the required information. Where Council requires the promoter to provide evidence of insurance this should be verified at this stage, if possible. It will be incumbent on the promoter to obtain insurance and it will be a condition in any resulting Order (Road Closure Permit) that the appropriate insurance is in place prior to the event taking place. An application WILL NOT be accepted if any of the required information and relevant fee is missing.
Department of Infrastructure (Roads)
Under the legislation Council needs the Department of Infrastructure’s consent to make any restriction/prohibition Order (Road Closure Permit). The Council should pursue this through the local DfI Roads statutory functions officer.
During its deliberations DfI Roads staff will assess:
- The nature and type of road to be closed;
- The adequacy of the proposed diversionary route; and,
- The general impact on traffic management of the road closure particularly if there is a seeming trend that a certain type of event is becoming more regular.
DfI Roads will also check to see whether there are any conflicting closures/works/diversions on the roads in question, and any such work already planned will generally result in the consent being refused.
Councils are required to consult with the District Commander of the police district before making an Order (Road Closure Permit) to restrict or prohibit temporarily the use of a road. Initial contact should be made through the local Operational Planning Unit.
It is envisaged that beyond the formal consultation notification, established communication channels between Council’s Licensing and Safety Advisory Group and police will ensure early notification of possible events, and in particular larger events which may have a more significant impact in terms of road safety, public safety and crime and disorder.
Fire and Rescue Service
Councils are required to consult with the Fire and Rescue Service through the relevant local Divisional Headquarters before making an Order (Road Closure Permit) to restrict or prohibit temporarily the use of a road.
Councils are required to consult with the Ambulance Service through the relevant local Divisional Headquarters before making an Order (Road Closure Permit) to restrict or prohibit temporarily the use of a road.
Consultation with the above in respect of any application must take place as early as possible. If there are any objections about the proposal, these must be resolved before the closure is approved. If any of the statutory bodies/agencies have any unresolved concerns in relation to the proposal Council will refuse the application.
If the application is rejected on the basis of such objections, the Council will inform the promoter.
The notice invites written representations about the proposed event and the legislation requires that the District Council consider these. Representations will generally be objecting to the closure and these should be considered before any closure is approved.
Any Section 75 equality of opportunity issues should be given due consideration.
Council may contact the promoter at this stage to see if any form of alternative proposal can be negotiated. If any dispute cannot be resolved between the relevant parties, Council shall arrange a hearing from those who made representation and the promoter. Council will then decide whether the application will be approved or refused.
The legislation does not provide any appeals process and promoters must take this into consideration at an early stage.
Inform Promoter of Outcome
Once all of the necessary checks have been made and the necessary procedures completed Council shall inform the promoter of its decision. If the decision is to refuse the application the promoter will be informed of the reasons for its refusal.
- Is your ‘Application Form’ completed correctly?
- Are the location maps included showing marshals/stewards and first aid positions?
- Is the signing schedule included and is it correct?
- Is a copy of the ‘Public Liability Insurance’ document included?
- Has a business and resident ‘Impact Assessment’ being carried out and proof of written evidence of consultations with residents, businesses, bus/taxi companies affected by the proposed closure included?
- Is a copy of a Sector Scheme 12ab (or Chapter 8) Certificate of Competence for those undertaking the signing work included?
- Has written agreement with Emergency Services been Included?
All applications within this Council District should be made to Derry City & Strabane District Council, Licensing & Safety Advisory Group Section
Derry City & Strabane District Council
98 Strand Road
Telephone (028) 71253253, Ext 7008
Email [email protected]
47 Derry Road
Telephone (028) 71253253, Ext 7008
Email [email protected]