No British monarch has ever celebrated a platinum jubilee, so it’s no surprise the country wants to mark the occasion with community events like street parties. Yet that potential rejoicing is hampered by an epidemic of regulatory nitpicking by councils across the country.
An estimated 15 million people are expected to take part in neighborhood events this weekend, but those seeking to close their roads to accommodate tables and chairs have run into bureaucratic barriers. Local authorities in England say they have received only 16,000 official applications, far fewer than would be needed to cover the number of people preparing to hold events. Council bosses are now telling people they can only go ahead with officially approved parties, although how they pitch those who go ahead to the police is anyone’s guess.
The government says residents should hold a ‘street meeting’ rather than a party if they left it too late to get a permit, the former not involving a road closure. But do they ever stop to wonder why so few people would have asked for permission? In some areas, organizers have been required to complete counter-terrorism forms, outline their security plans, say how they will deal with inclement weather and produce a Covid risk assessment.
Many were told they needed to purchase liability insurance. One council advised against putting up buntings in the streets lest they damage “our dust carts, streetlights and/or vehicles”. Faced with such ridiculous demands, it’s hardly surprising that many simply gave up. This weekend marks a unique moment in our national history. To see it wasted by a small bureaucracy is depressing.