Public event planning

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

Notice regarding Oxfordshire County Council charges for events

Oxfordshire County Council must recoup all costs incurred when providing temporary road closures, including the making of the temporary order, any traffic management that may be required to be undertaken by Oxfordshire County Council and any licences, such as skips, hoardings etc. This policy applies to commercial event organisers, District Councils, Town Councils, Charitable Organisations or any other similar bodies. This came into force on 6 April 2016.

Please be assured that Oxfordshire County Council will still provide advice and will be attending Safety Advisory Group Meetings at which guidance is provided to event organisers. Should you wish to have any further clarification then please do not hesitate in contacting the Network Coordination Team.

We are a strong supporter of not for profit and community organisations and the very important role they play in Oxfordshire.

The organisation of any public event, regardless of its size or the numbers of people attending, requires careful planning to ensure the safety of the public. Any event which involves any of the following will require a licence:

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

Who to contact about an event licence

If you wish to hold a street party, parade or other small community event with a road closure, please contact your District Council as the Districts and City Council process road closures for these types of events and issue temporary event licenses.

If you wish to hold a sporting event on the public highway or a large public event which may affect the highway, such as a large music festival please contact Oxfordshire County Council to discuss event planning, road closure applications, traffic management etc.

In Oxfordshire, the licensing process is the responsibility of licensing officers from the five district councils:

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

Events on or affecting the public highway

If you are planning an event which you wish to hold on the public highway or which may have an impact on the public highway (such as increased traffic) please send an event plan using the content guidelines in the template document below to our Network Co-ordination Team.

Please note that you should complete and return this form in addition to contacting the relevant district council Licensing Team regarding licensing requirements (see above), and attending at Safety Advisory Group meetings if required.

Requesting a road closure for an event

If you are planning an event which requires a road closure or other Temporary Traffic Regulation Order (TTRO) such as 'no waiting' restrictions, one-way traffic etc please complete the application form below and return to our Network Co-ordination Team.

Further documents required

  • Traffic management and signing planthis will be used to help publicise the restriction(s) and must be clearly labelled to show the location of restrictions, road names affected and diversions.
  • Copy of £10M public liability insurance cover certificate.
  • Purchase Order document – this is to cover legal fees, advertising costs and associated services provided by officers in relation to your application.

Please return this completed form and the above required documents to our Network Co-ordination Team.

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

If your application is approved (and when we have identified all the services we will need to undertake), we can advise on the costs of processing an Order. Applicants are responsible for letter dropping affected properties at our request.

Event safety guide

Local authorities and emergency services have joined forces to produce a guide with information for public event organisers in Oxfordshire. The guide aims to support organisers and contains practical advice on issues such as safety, licensing and traffic management. With information on planning and running events, who to speak to about holding an event and useful contact details, it brings together all the information needed by anyone looking to run an event in Oxfordshire:

Safety advisory groups

Events that require licensing have to be assessed by a safety advisory group (SAG) to make sure that 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.

Some small events may not be recommended for a SAG. On the other hand, there are events that do not require licensing that are still recommended to have a SAG meeting due to certain circumstances of the event, such as traffic issues or other 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, and advise 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 if required.

The remit of the safety advisory group is to consider the plans presented by the event organiser and offer guidance on the contents and structure of the event plan. Each representative can provide guidance relating to every aspect of the event, including:

  • 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.

However, 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, and Food Safety Act 1990 amongst others.

What happens at a safety advisory group meeting

Once you have contacted the your district council about licensing your event, a SAG meeting may be arranged. The SAG will examine various aspects of your proposed event, such as:

  • 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 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? 

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.

Safety advisory group meetings are held at district council offices or police stations and are informal in nature. The event organiser can present the planned event to the group. A general discussion then takes place, taking in all the concerns of the representatives (including concerns of the event organiser), providing advice and offering solutions to problems.

For large, complex or especially problematic events, specific actions may be noted for the event organiser to implement, assessed at a follow up meeting, to ensure the event is properly planned for.

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 greater safety of those attending and prevent unnecessary inconvenience to the community.

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

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, and assessing the need for traffic management such as event signing, temporary traffic signals or road closures depending on the impact to the highway network of the event being assessed.

We will also provide information about planned roadworks and other events which may conflict with your event, and will also make sure roadworks are avoided in the area of your event if possible, once the SAG representatives are satisfied you have met all requirements and the event date is agreed.

For enquiries related specifically to highways issues and events, please contact the relevant Oxfordshire County Council Network Coordinator:

City of Oxford, Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire area
Tel: 0345 310 1111 (select option 1)

Cherwell and West Oxfordshire area:
Tel: 0845 310 1111 (select option 1)

More information about event planning

The SAG recognises the 'Event Safety Guide' book (HSG195) as the standard to be applied in relation to event planning, and it should be essential reading for the event organiser. It can be ordered from the Health and Safety executive website. Another useful HSE publication is Five Steps to Risk Assessment (pdf format, 78 KB).