Operators thinking of jumping on to the festival bandwagon should make careful preparations. Over recent years we have seen festival organisers fall foul of police, environmental health officers (EHOs) and local residents for a variety of reasons, including noise pollution and traffic congestion.
Your event may be a simple affair highlighting local craft beers or a more ambitious project showcasing local music talent.
Whatever the nature and complexity of your event, there are a number of basic considerations that apply to all. To help you through the licensing and regulatory maze, here are our top tips for organising your mini summer festival.
- Is the land where the event will be held licensed? If not, you will need a premises licence or a temporary event notice (TEN). If you are planning to sell tickets to more than 499 people (including staff and performers), it is almost certainly the former.
- If there is a premises licence, the conditions relating to use of the outside area, capacity, and on and off-sales should be carefully checked.
- Get the authorities on board at an early stage. In particular, discuss your plans with the local EHO, especially if you are having live music in an outside area (or even within a marquee). Remember, the EHO can object to your application for a TEN.
- If you are considering organising a larger festival, you may need to discuss your plans with the local safety advisory group. This group comprises police, EHOs, fire officers, health and safety officials, the ambulance service and other experts in their field.
- Even for a small festival it is important to carry out a risk assessment, in particular in relation to fire and health and safety. The penalties for a breach can be severe.
- It is important that you discuss your plan with your neighbours and endeavour to allay their concerns. Winning the PR battle with them could well prevent complaints at the time of the event.
- Make sure you have the final say on permitted noise levels, and retain the authority (and access to the amplifier) to turn the music down if it gets too loud.
- It is possible that families will be attending the event if it is held in the daytime. If you are the holder of the premises licence or TEN, you can be prosecuted for underage sales. How are you controlling the individuals (or maybe outside events company) serving the alcohol, what training is provided and what measures are they using to ensure proper control?
- Remember that the same rules for serving drunk people will apply equally to your festival as to your licensed premises.
- Ensure that you clean up after your event. A well co-ordinated litter patrol will put you in your neighbours’ good books.
Tips supplied by licensing specialists Poppleston Allen.