High price parties as councils charge for closures

The rehearsal for the State Procession for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in the Mall in central London.
The rehearsal for the State Procession for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in the Mall in central London.
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AS hundreds of communities across Yorkshire prepare to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with an old-fashioned street party this weekend, some may be surprised to discover they have had to pay out hundreds of pounds more than others for the privilege.

Around 265 street parties will be taking place throughout Yorkshire and the Humber, from Sheffield in the south to Scarborough in the north.

The vast majority of those have been agreed completely free of charge by the councils in charge of the roads affected.

But organisers of four street parties will have to pay £300 for a road closure – due to rules put in place by North Yorkshire County Council alone.

The authority is allowing all roads, including major through roads, to hold street parties, but that flexibility comes at a price.

Although it has waived charges for the closure of minor roads and side streets – and, as a result, 46 of the street parties in North Yorkshire will be held free of charge – a fee of £300 remains in place for those who wish to close a major main road.

Every other highways authority in the region has chosen to waive the fee for all road closures, although some have tried to restrict street parties to quieter roads and cul-de-sacs.

A spokesman for Barnsley Council said: “We have approved street party closures on quiet side roads and cul-de-sacs only, we would not approve the closures on busy through roads.”

The situation is similar in Wakefield, where a council spokesman said: “We have officially approved 16 road closure applications. They are usually for quiet streets and cul-de-sacs.

“We would consider applications for main through roads but would have to speak to partners, such as the highways department, police and public transport, and look at emergency services access. We would judge each application on its own merit.”

In Hull, no through road closures have been allowed at all.

North Yorkshire County Council’s cabinet member for highways, Coun Gareth Dadd, said the authority was made up of “party animals, not party poopers” and added that they had tried to be flexible.

With 50 planned street parties, North Yorkshire is arguably the most patriotic authority in Yorkshire and the Humber, beating Sheffield, with 28, into second place.

Coun Dadd added: “I think we’ve got the balance right.

“We would encourage people to use cul-de-sacs and minor road to avoid things like health and safety issues, risk assessments and things like that.

“For a through road closure, there is a cost of £300 for the organiser, but only four people have actually had to pay that. For the other 46 we’ve levied no charge at all, in the spirit of encouraging people to have these parties.”

He said that the £300 charge would cover only a “fraction” of the council officer time spent on organising a road closure.

“In other areas, they’re not encouraging people to have parties on a through road at all,” Coun Dadd said.

“We’re offering that opportunity, should people want it, but there is a small charge.

“It’s about striking a balance.”

North Yorkshire is home to some of the most ambitious street parties taking place across the region, with entire villages planning a lavish weekend of activities.

For a full list of street parties visit www.yorkshirepost.co.uk