Q&A Licensing preparations for a village festival

  • Date: 26 May 2015
  • Author/Solicitor: Andy Grimsey
  • Source: reproduced from the Publican's Morning Advertiser

Q: I am thinking of organising a small festival in my village. I am going to use the pub as the main premises for the sale of alcohol, but also have a couple of temporary bars outside. There will be a small stage outside where we plan to have some bands. It will be a family-friendly event. What licensing issues do I need to consider? For example, can I use a Temporary Event Notice?

A: There are many things to consider here. Firstly, the limit on a single Temporary Event Notice is 499 (including staff and performers) so if you cannot be sure you can restrict the numbers on any individual TEN to 499 you may have to consider applying for a one-off premises licence. However, there are many more things to consider than just the alcohol licensing. The recent deregulation of entertainment has made live music non-licensable in many circumstances up to 11pm for audiences of up to 500, and recorded music (DJs and discos) to a lesser degree. You may need legal advice on how these exemptions sit with your plans, and how you can benefit from them.

There may also be issues with crowd management and stewarding, traffic management/road closures, how to control noise, the safe use of any stages, medical and welfare provision, child safety and emergency planning, to name but a few. Depending upon the size and nature of your festival all these issues and more may need to be addressed. However, help is at hand as most Councils have Safety Advisory Groups consisting of the main authorities who deal with such events, for example the Police, Ambulance Service, Environmental Health and Fire Authority. Their role is advisory but their purpose is to ensure that larger events proceed smoothly. I would suggest you approach the local Council and see if you can attend the next Safety Advisory Group with a view to explaining your proposals.

Authorities do not like surprises - they would much rather be told well in advance what your proposals are so that they can apply their expertise and assist you in delivering a safe event. Indeed you may be told that a "SAG" isn't considered necessary whilst still being given helpful information and advice to assist with your own planning.

In addition, of course, you will have to ensure that the appropriate licences or permissions for alcohol and regulated entertainment are obtained, be this through Temporary Event Notices or a premises licence. It may also be necessary to clarify subsidiary matters such as planning and any copyright licences for the music played (PRS, PPL etc.).

In short, there is a lot to think about but with appropriate advance planning and expert advice there is no reason your event should not go ahead. Whether this is through a Temporary Event Notice or otherwise will very much depend upon that planning process.

It would also be a good idea to take legal advice in order to ensure that all the appropriate authorisations are in place