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Public event planning

Safety advice and details of how to apply for a licence when planning a public event.

When you need an event licence

Street parties and small community events

View the government information about organising a street party.

Street parties on quiet streets that don’t affect the wider road network count as small events. If you’re planning a small event for neighbours, apply to hold a street party through your local council.

If you aren't sure which is your district council, enter your postcode on the DirectGov website.

Sporting events and festivals

Contact the Network Co-ordination Team if you want to hold a:

  • sporting event on the public highway
  • large public event that may affect the highway, such as a large music festival.

We will discuss event planning, road closure applications and traffic management with you. You will need to apply to your district or city council for the event licence.

We must recoup all costs incurred when providing temporary road closures. Our costs may include:

  • making the temporary order
  • traffic management
  • licences, such as skips, hoardings.

12 weeks minimum notice is required from the date of application to process a road closure or other temporary traffic order for an event, except in exceptional circumstances.

Events on or affecting the public highway

If you are planning to hold an event on the public highway or that may impact the public highway (such as increased traffic), you need to:

  • complete an event plan
  • apply for an event licence through your district or city council
  • attend safety advisory group meetings (if required).

Event plan

Complete the event plan below and upload it to the Network Co-ordination Team contact form.

How to request a road closure for an event

If you are planning an event that requires a road closure or other temporary traffic regulation order (TTRO) such as 'no waiting' restrictions or one-way traffic you need to:

  • complete an Event TTRO and SEO application form
  • provide a traffic management and signing plan
  • provide a copy of your £10M public liability insurance cover certificate
  • complete a purchase order to cover fees.

Upload the application form and supporting documents to the Network Co-ordination Team contact form.

Traffic management and signing plan

The plan is used to help publicise the restriction(s) and must be clearly labelled to show the location of restrictions, road names affected and diversions.

Purchase order document 

The purchase order is to cover legal fees, advertising costs and associated services provided by officers concerning your application.

What happens next

If your application is approved and we have identified all the services we will need to undertake; we will tell you the costs of processing your order.

Applicants are responsible for letter dropping affected properties at our request.

Event safety guidance

Organising any public event, regardless of its size or the number of people attending, requires careful planning to ensure the public's safety. Events that involve any of the following will require a licence.

  • 500 or more people attending
  • Sale of alcohol or food
  • Playing amplified or live music

We provide advice and attend safety advisory group meetings, at which guidance is provided to event organisers. contact the Network Co-ordination Team for further guidance.

Event safety guide

Local authorities and emergency services have joined forces to produce an event safety guide (pdf format, 747 KB) with information for public event organisers in Oxfordshire. The guide aims to support organisers and contains practical safety advice about:

  • licensing and traffic management
  • planning and running events
  • who to speak to about holding an event
  • useful contact details.

Safety advisory groups

Events requiring licensing must be assessed by a safety advisory group (SAG) to ensure they meet all necessary safety requirements. Safety advisory groups are made up of representatives from:

  • Thames Valley Police
  • Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service
  • Oxfordshire Ambulance Service
  • Oxfordshire County Council
  • relevant district council (licensing officer and sometimes the emergency planning officer).

Why your event needs a safety advisory group

If the licensing officer decides the event needs licensing, they will recommend a safety advisory group (SAG) meeting to discuss your event.

We may not recommend a SAG for some small events.

Some events do not require licensing, but we recommend a SAG meeting because of traffic issues or safety issues not covered by the local authority licensing laws.

What safety advisory groups do

The safety advisory group's main functions are to advise the licensing authority (i.e. the district council) on appropriate conditions for licensed events. The group advises organisers of both licensed and unlicensed events on:

  • the prevention of crime and disorder
  • the prevention of public nuisance (such as noise and traffic congestion)
  • public safety
  • the protection of children from harm.

Depending on the nature of the event, the licensing authority (who is responsible for organising the SAG meetings) can call on other agencies for specialist advice.

The safety advisory group considers the event organiser's plans and offers guidance on the contents and structure of the event plan. The group can provide guidance for:

  • licensing
  • fire safety advice
  • legal requirements
  • road safety issues
  • child safety requirements and vetting of staff in charge of children
  • noise and other environmental issues
  • emergency planning
  • medical facilities
  • policing and security
  • crowd control
  • attendance monitoring.

What the safety advisor groups don't do

The SAG is not responsible for planning the event for you. It is there to help you carry out your responsibilities under legislation such as the:

  • Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
  • Environment Protection Act 1990
  • Food Safety Act 1990.

What happens at a safety advisory group meeting

We will arrange the SAG meeting to examine your proposed event.

  • How many people are expected to attend, and are the numbers sustainable?
  • Does the event require a road closure or other form of traffic management?
  • Does the event need a contingency plan involving the emergency services?
  • Does the event require a public entertainment licence, or is alcohol for sale?
  • Do you have adequate insurance cover for employees and the public?
  • Is noise or any other environmental disturbance or pollutant an issue?
  • Are any other events or roadworks at the time of your event likely to cause severe traffic congestion? 

Risk assessment

A risk assessment is highly recommended when planning an event and is a legal requirement if employing staff. The safety advisory group representatives can provide expert advice in their field to ensure you have fully assessed the potential risks at your event and that you have the appropriate resources to minimise risks and plan for emergencies.

Where we hold the safety advisory group meetings

We hold these informal meetings at district council offices or police stations.

The event organiser can present the planned event to the group. We then have a general discussion, to consider the concerns of the representatives and the event organiser. The meeting can provide advice and offer solutions to problems.

For large, complex or especially problematic events, there may be specific actions for the event organiser to carry out. We will hold a follow-up meeting to assess actions and to ensure the event is properly planned.

The benefits of involving the safety advisory group

Our aim is not to discourage events but to ensure all aspects of event planning have been carefully considered. By submitting your event to the safety advisory group and taking action on the advice provided, you will:

  • ensure the safety of those attending
  • prevent unnecessary inconvenience to the community.

Future sustainability of planned events can be greatly improved by following the advice of the SAG. We want to ensure events are properly and professionally executed from the start, and have a positive impact on the community.

Our role

Oxfordshire County Council is the highways authority for Oxfordshire. Our main role within the SAG is to provide advice on:

  • road safety issues
  • public liability insurance
  • media coverage

We assess the need for traffic management such as:

  • event signing
  • temporary traffic signals
  • road closures.

What happens after the SAG meeting

Once the SAG representatives are satisfied you have met all requirements and the event date is agreed we will:

  • provide information about planned roadworks and other events which may conflict with your event
  • make sure roadworks are avoided in the area of your event if possible.

More information about event planning

The SAG recognises the 'Event Safety Guide' book (HSG195) as the standard to be applied to event planning, and it should be essential reading for the event organiser. You can order it from the Health and Safety Executive website.

Another useful HSE publication is Five Steps to Risk Assessment (pdf format, 78 KB).