Councils hit back over 'ill-founded' street party attacks

UK braces for the royal wedding
UK braces for the royal wedding

By Alex Stevenson

Local authorities have a positive approach to street parties which does not reflect ministers' "disingenuous claims", according to the Local Government Association (LGA).

Ministers have been joined by David Cameron in attacking excessively bureaucratic councils making it harder for ordinary people to host street parties for next week's royal wedding.

The prime minister told councils to not "get in the way" or "make problems where there are none" in an article for the Sun newspaper earlier this month.

He wrote: "My message to everyone who wants to have a street party is: I'm having one and I want you to go ahead and have one too."

There have now been over 5,500 road closure requests received for April 29th, the LGA said. London boroughs have dealt with over 800 while Surrey and Hertfordshire are particularly patriotic hotspots, with 298 and 205 requests respectively.

The LGA's culture, tourism and sport programme board chair, Chris White, said councils had been working hard to make organising street parties as easy as possible.

"It's work they're more than happy to do," he insisted, before tackling the coalition government's criticisms head-on.

"Despite sterling efforts in going above and beyond their statutory duties, council staff have had to shoulder repeated and often disingenuous claims of being overly bureaucratic," he added.

"Many of these criticisms have come direct from government ministers, and the vast majority have been totally erroneous and ill-founded.

"It's testament to councils' positive approach that so far they have dealt with about 5,500 road closure applications as well as numerous other street party requests where they have taken a very light touch approach, simply offering guidance when requested."

Some councils are taking steps to actively encourage more street parties. Newham council has launched a street party planning pack, while Hammersmith and Fulham council has put together a bumper equivalent which includes flags, bunting, song lyrics and even a cake recipe.

The coalition's criticisms have targeted local authorities which have taken a more officious view, however.

Some have told party organisers they must hire a "traffic management company" to oversee road closures, or not permit "music, inflatables, rides or entertainment".


Politics @ Lunch

Friday lunchtime. Your Inbox. It's a date.