East London councils have welcomed the softening of tough guidelines regulating street parties for the upcoming royal wedding.
Philip Hammond, the transport secretary, has decided to abandon guidance which had threatened to impede celebrations, replacing it with more cooperative conditions.
Several councils had feared that they would be forced to introduce excessive red tape for planned private events and would have to consider imposing high charges for road closures as a result of the earlier advice.
The aim of the new guidance is to enable private celebrations on a scale last witnessed when Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer married in 1981.
Chris Gittins, director of ‘Streets Alive,’ an organisation seeking to build community spirit at street level across the UK said: “It’s great news that the advice note has been scrapped. In Croydon, things will now be easier as it would previously have been impossible to have a street party.
“Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Lewisham had already advised of their intention not to charge. The new arrangements will mean no charges anywhere and hopefully no requirement for public liability insurance. These changes will be in place for all private street parties in future and not just for the royal wedding.”
In Croydon, the minister’s decision has been met with an immediate response. John Bownas, a spokesperson for the council, told ELL: “We were already looking at how to offer real help to residents for holding street parties some weeks before this announcement.
“We are proposing a series of options which will be confirmed on Monday. Numbers of parties are difficult to judge. However, we had thirty for the ‘Big Lunch’ last year, and would probably expect more.”
Tower Hamlets is aiming to shorten the time needed to process street party applications for the Royal Wedding from 28 to 21 days. Stephen Murray, Head of Arts and Events at the council, said: “Whilst wanting to ensure that all community events are run safely, we are also trying to cut down the red tape.”
In Hackney, plans are already well underway to mark the occasion. Gareth Green, a spokesperson for Hackney Council, said: “New guidance should be available to private planners soon. In principle, the council will facilitate requests for street parties and we want people to be able to enjoy themselves.”