People planning and organising street parties and celebrations in their neighbourhoods are being urged to challenge any jobsworths who wrongly cite health and safety as an excuse to ban or place restrictions on certain events. HSE Chair Judith Hackitt advises: "The Diamond Jubilee is going to be a huge celebration. We want to ensure that the hours of planning and preparation lead to successful and enjoyable events. Health and safety law does not to apply to local events organised by community volunteers and a few sensible precautions to deal with any potential minor incidents are all that is required. We are encouraging people to challenge decisions and silly restrictions when they think health and safety are being used as an excuse and our Myth Busters Challenge Panel is ready to help."
Supporting the HSE’s position Employment Minister Chris Grayling said that street party organisers should: "Hang up the bunting and challenge anyone who says otherwise. Too often we hear stories of jobsworths out to spoil everyone's fun especially at big occasions like the Queen's Diamond Jubilee all in the name of so called health and safety. There is nothing in Health and Safety law to stop you celebrating in June. If you think someone is wrongfully using health and safety you can seek advice from the Myth Busters Challenge Panel."
At the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) Communities Secretary Eric Pickles says that: "The Jubilee is a great opportunity for communities from all walks of life to come together, and reinforce our shared identity and sense of Britishness. The Government has slashed back regulations on street parties, by reining back the complicated bureaucracy of forms, permissions and risk assessments - now councils need to do their bit to join in. Unnecessary and irrelevant health and safety regulations should not be used as an excuse to prevent people to celebrate; the only red tape in sight should be the Jubilee bunting hanging in the streets."
Often health and safety is invoked wrongly to disguise a person's real motives - an unwillingness to honestly defend an unpopular decision, concern over costs or complexity of running an event, or worries about potential civil liability claims. Private, not for profit, street parties and events rarely attract the requirements of health and safety law or the need for music licencing and insurance.
Some local authorities have already acted to get rid of red tape and make it easier for local residents. Essex County Council have had more than 3,000 visitors to their helpful Jubilee planning webpages and Hampshire County Council are encouraging people to go ahead without costly insurance when it's just unnecessary.
So don’t be too concerned about health and safety requirements if you are planning your own celebrations. Take the same sensible precautions that you would take if holding a party for friends and family in your own home. Check the DCLG Street Party Guide or the Street Party site for further information – and have a good one!