Platinum Jubilee street party organisers have been made to fill out counter-terrorism forms as council officials are accused of strangling celebrations with red tape.
Gloria Odell was trying to organise a small party in Leverstock Green, a suburb of Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire, to mark the Queen’s 70 years on the throne.
But she was left shocked when Dacorum Borough Council sent her 23 pages of forms including a “counter-terrorism plan”, a security plan, a severe weather management plan and a Covid risk assessment, none of which are mentioned in government guidance.
The 70-year-old said the deluge of “nonsense” protocols forced her to abandon the June 5 event for just 15 houses on her street, which would have raised money for the local hospice.
Despite the Government stating that “street parties are simple to organise”, it is the second high-profile case of Platinum Jubilee revellers ditching their plans.
‘Council red tape gone mad’
Ms Odell told The Telegraph: “To say these forms are ridiculous doesn’t begin to describe it - it’s a piece of amenity green at the end of a cul de sac that is used by dog walkers. I was just like, ‘seriously, where do they think we are?’
“The issue with it is that while the forms are a tick-box exercise in effect, you then have to send them nine supplementary documents backing up what you’ve said which potentially go to 10 separate people.
“If I tick yes for the anti-terrorist measures, I have to send a document showing what they are. It’s council red tape gone mad, it’s absolute nonsense.”
She said she spent five weeks trying to reach the council’s senior executives after receiving out-of-office messages, and eventually got the help of Sir Mike Penning, Hemel Hempstead’s MP, who received a two-line reply saying the matter was being dealt with.
The Tory-led council also asked her for proof of an event management plan, an event safety plan, an event risk assessment and a “copy of public liability insurance certificate”. Government guidance states no insurance or formal risk assessment is needed.
“I just feel they’re completely unaccountable, they’re just doing as they please. There’s no common sense involved,” Ms Odell said.
“I was just swamped with all these forms and thought well I’m not doing that, so we’re just having a party in our back garden now. I had planned to hold a raffle for the Hospice of St Francis Berkhamsted so they’re losing out as well now.”
Ministers have encouraged the public to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee locally over the four-day bank holiday weekend from June 2 to 5. The Royal family’s website says more than 60,000 people have registered to host Big Jubilee lunches over the weekend.
The organisers of a Platinum Jubilee event in Binstead on the Isle of Wight said that council-sanctioned red tape meant they would have to pay for public liability insurance, as well as hiring and paying for a traffic management company to draw up traffic plans and supply all signage.
Josie Appleton, director of the Manifesto Club, told The Telegraph: “I think this is part and parcel of the way councils treat public events and public spaces - it’s almost impossible to organise any sort of event without massive reams of form filling and insurance.
“Twenty years ago you could put up a stall in a public space and you didn’t have to ask permission and that presumption has been completely overturned, so now the presumption is you can’t.”
A spokesman for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “We want celebrations marking the Queen’s historic 70-year reign to be the biggest and best, and for as many people as possible across the nation to get involved.
“The Secretary of State has written to all UK councils encouraging them to support residents who want to organise street parties in their communities and our published guidance makes clear this simple process doesn’t need a licence or formal risk assessment.”
Dacorum Borough Council did not respond to requests for comment.
Conservative MP Ben Bradley told The Telegraph: “It’s frustrating to hear that some people have found it really difficult to make this happen because we all want everybody to be able to celebrate Her Majesty’s reign and all of the incredible work she has done.”
Mr Bradley, also the leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, said his officials had 300 applications for Jubilee road closures and were keen that residents “should spend the year having a real party.
“I would like to think that other authorities would be doing their very best to support that as well, so it’s frustrating to hear that perhaps that’s not as simple as it should be,” he added.