Welcome to Sandwell - a thriving cultural hub and an events friendly Borough
Sandwell is nestled in the heart of the West Midlands with excellent transport links. We welcome a variety of events from small community celebrations to large commercial festivals
Events attract high levels of engagement from diverse groups and create positive perceptions of our geographical area. This is something we embrace as a Council. Events are the bridge that can work across heritage, museums, parks, sport, community teams, youth services, volunteering and public health to bring people together. Events drive investment and opportunity and help us develop into a place that is great to live, work and invest.
This guide will help you through the process of applying to hold an event on Council-owned land in Sandwell and will be a helpful resource for new and seasoned event organisers.
In this guide we will guide you through the application process, current legislation and best practices. We will also link to further information that can help your planning. Some of our sites are in extremely high demand and we encourage you to familiarise yourself with the application process and deadlines provided here, in order that you can secure your preferred site and date for your event. We are keen to use as wide a variety of sites as possible, from our town centres and parks to other spaces. If you have an idea for an event, please get in touch.
An Event Organiser's Responsibility
It is important to consider your responsibilities as an event organiser before planning your event.
To the public/event attendees
You are responsible for making sure the public are in a safe environment and that you have appropriately considered their welfare both in your planning and your delivery. You are responsible for ensure the event is as described in any publicity and that any fees and charges are appropriately managed.
To yourself and your staff/committee
You also have a responsibility to both yourself and you staff or organising group. This is in terms of both your own personal safety and also whether you are able to cope with responsibilities around event planning and dealing with issues on the event day(s).
To the council
You have a responsibility to thoroughly inform the council as the landowner of your event plans and apply for all relevant permissions and licences relating to your event. It is likely you will be invited to the multi-agency Safety Advisory Group (SAG) who will assess the safety of your event. It is expected that any advice from SAG is thoroughly considered and all contractors, performers and outside agencies who appear at your event have the relevant safety paperwork. Where payment is applicable, this should be done in a timely manner and at no time should the council's name be brought into disrepute.
To the law
As event organiser you need to comply with common law and assume legal responsibility under what it termed "duty of care" under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. You are responsible for the safety and wellbeing of all people at your event including the public, staff, contractors and performers.
The Environmental Protection Act 1990 specifies that you must not cause a nuisance to residents nearby. You have a legal responsibility to comply with this.
Should you ignore or neglect something that you consider to be harmful or unsafe you will be liable for prosecution or a civil claim. This also applies if you are at the event because of employment or association.
When Sandwell receives your application, your event will be classified and assessed to determine:
- The type of application required
- Whether the application is accepted in principle or not
- The level of hire fees charged
- The length of time needed for the application to be considered
- The nature and duration of any consultation to be undertaken.
We classify community events, as activities, festivals or parades organised by charities, not for profit community or voluntary groups that directly benefit the communities of Sandwell. These do not provide commercial gain or significant marketing to a profit making organisation
Examples of a community event might be:
- A park fun day organised by a local town community organisation
- A fun run organised by a local charity
- A town centre fete organised by a local branch of organisations such as a Lions Club or a scout group
Commercial activities generally operate at a profit, may be ticketed and include ticket fees or may be events that raise the marketing profile of an organisation significantly.
Examples of these include:
- Ticketed festival, theatre, music concerts, craft fairs
- Fairs and circuses
- Sporting events such as triathlons, marathons and cycles races
- National charity fundraising events
- Corporate events and product launches
Approval in principle subject to SAG
Once you have received approval in principle subject to SAG this means you can go ahead and market your event (see - Informing people about your event) and start the process of more detailed planning.
It does not mean that your event has final approval however and your event will need to be assess by the Safety Advisory Group (SAG).
SAG is a multi-agency group that advise on events. The Sandwell SAG includes all three emergency services and local transport operators along with a number of council representatives including people from highways, parking, environmental health, licensing, health and safety and public health.
The role of SAG is to assess your plans and advise on safety both to you and the council. The group may make recommendations and/or advise you amend paperwork or make alterations to your event or event planning processes.
SAG meets monthly and it is likely you will be asked to attend to present your plans.
SAG is in place both to help you and to challenge your plans to ensure your event is as safe as possible for both you and your attendees. We are very proud that we have a wide range of event expertise around the Sandwell SAG table who are able to offer our organisers invaluable advice and suggestions.
Once SAG is happy with your plans and paperwork they will make a recommendation to Sandwell Council for approval. At this point you will be issued with an event permit.
The Purple Guide
The Purple Guide has been written by Events Organisers and is the national guidance to health, safety and welfare at music and other events. It is a really useful document and will give you much more advice than we are able to provide here. You can find more information about events safety from purple guide website and also HSE website. For our largest static location events we may use Green Guide guidance to assess the event.
Roles and Responsibilities
If you are organising an event, you have a duty of care to your staff, attendees and members of the public. We recommend you consider who will take on the following positions and note them in your EMP.(Depending on size, some individuals may hold more than one role).
- Event Manager (person who knows the event best, takes final responsibility and will take charge in an emergency situation)
- Site Manager (person who positions activities as they arrive on site and ensures the build and break are safe)
- Operations Manager (person who looks after the running of the event including security, stewarding, medical, catering and bars)
- Production Manager (person who liaises with artists, sound, lights, stage, screens, special effects etc.
Venue and Site Layout
Decide the suitability of the venue and whether it can accommodate safely the event you are planning. Your site plan should include:
- Infrastructure (stage, marquees, toilets etc.)
- Power/water sources
- Emergency routes for evacuation and blue lights vehicles
- Event Control, medical and lost child points
- Ground works/pipes. (Check line search before you dig website)
If you (or a provider) is considering using drones within Sandwell as part of your event, this must be discussed in the first instance with our colleagues in Risk & Insurance. Information can be found on Civil Aviation Authority website or in the Purple Guide.
We understand that planning events safely and in line with the Government guidance has many additional complexities, therefore this document aims to highlight:
- What we expect and require from you as an organiser;
- Areas of your event that will require additional planning;
- Examples of how these requirements may be applied to your event;
- Risks to consider when deciding to hold an event during COVID-19.
Health and Safety
You will need to complete a risk assessment for all activity taking place on the site. This should include:
- Working at height
- Temporary structures
- Weather conditions
- Ground conditions
- Trip hazards
- Antisocial behaviour
- Risk of fire
- Vehicle movement
- Crowd Management
- Electrical equipment
- Cash handling
- Manual handling
- Fun fair
- Noise Management
More information and templates can be found on risk section of HSE website
Lost Children/Vulnerable Adults/Carers &Safeguarding
Inevitably at large events, it is likely that a child or vulnerable adult will become separated from their carers. It is really important to act swiftly and calmly in this situation. There is some useful information about lost child procedure here.
You should have a clear plan of what to do in this situation and this should also cover how you safeguard a lost child or vulnerable adult while under your care.
It is your duty to ensure any staff , contractors or entertainers who may have access to children or vulnerable people have the appropriate DBS checks in place and you should ensure your event management plan details what efforts you will make to ensure vulnerable groups are not exposed to risk of abuse or mistreatment at your event.
You should also ensure that any children wo are performing or involved in your event are appropriately chaperoned.
You should always consider what first aid cover you have at your event. The Purple Guide gives an algorithm to work out what you require. One medical provider has designed a convenient calculator for you to use. Try event medical services risk calculator here.
You are strongly advised to complete a comprehensive Medical Risk Assessment or to build this robustly into your main risk assessment for your event. The level of medical provision your event requires will come from this assessment. You (or your medical provider) should also produce a
Medical Plan detailing where, when and how you are going to mitigate those risks identified in your risk assessment and provide appropriate medical cover for your event. Further advice on completing the risk assessment and medical plan should be sought from publications such as The Purple Guide, HSE Guidance or professional Health& Safety/Medical advisors. Failure to complete a Risk Assessment or Medical Plan may leave you open to prosecution and/or litigation should an incident occur.
The SAG (or the NHS Ambulance Service) cannot risk assess your event for you. You as the Event Organiser must do this, as it is you that are held legally responsible for your event. If you do not supply a Medical Risk Assessment and Medical Plan, then the SAG cannot assess your event fully and any advice given to you by the SAG may be incomplete.
The level of medical cover you supply should be sufficient to minimise the impact on the local NHS. This includes local A&E Departments, GP's and the Ambulance Service. The aim should be to manage casualties on site as far as it is safe and appropriate to do so and to arrange off-site transfer within a satisfactory timeframe when it is not.
Transporting patients from an event to definitive care (hospital) is a regulated activity by law and as such, can only be provided by a company registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC). If your event requires an Ambulance to transport offsite, then this must be supplied by a company registered by the CQC.
If your event is being held under the authority of a governing body (UK Athletics, Motorsport, Equestrian etc) then please refer to that organisation for the level of medical cover that they stipulate. Failure to adhere to their requirements could invalidate your event insurance.
Medical cover should be provided for the entire duration of your event, from build up to breakdown. The level of this cover will be determined by your Medical Risk Assessment, taking into account guidance and legislation. If you are providing accommodation and/or camping for your event, then you have a duty of care to those staying and you should provide overnight medical cover.
It is now expected that most events (and ALL public events) should have immediate access to an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and trained personnel.
Medical providers can vary in quality and capability and event organisers should exercise due diligence in selecting a competent and reliable service. It is good practice to take up references from other customers who have used the provider for similar events and personal recommendation from peers within the event industry may also be useful. Check that they hold appropriate medical defence and public liability insurances and have rigorous clinical governance procedures in place.
You should develop emergency procedures and ensure that staff and volunteers know what to do should an emergency occur. This plan should cover several different headings and address many topics that relate to running an event.
- Upon sighting an incident which requires an emergency response
- Summoning other agencies including emergency services
- Informing staff and activating procedures
- Dispersing crowds
- Ongoing liaison with the emergency services and other authorities
- Management of public information and media/press
For more information and guidance on emergency planning click here
It is really important to understand your audience ahead of your event. Think about what sort of people you are expecting? What activities do they like to do? What behavioural issues may they bring? What sort of equipment is required to control their movement? How will they get to the event? Will they be drinking alcohol? Will they be sitting or standing? Have you got a celebrity attending who will influence crowd activity? Are there any places where crowd surges are likely to take place? Answers to these questions should influence your plans.
Roads are not necessarily closed for the main event site but sometimes roads need to be closed for the safety of attendees as they arrive or leave. You will need to apply for a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order(TTRO). You should engage with a traffic management company who will be able to provide plans for you and then put it into place. You can find the temporary traffic management document here.
Event staff should have a means of effective communication between each other e.g. short-wave radio or mobile phones (WhatsApp is a really useful tool!). Clear procedures for using communication equipment should be outlined in the EMP. You should keep a log of key communications for your debrief and in case any information is required following any incidents.
Staff briefings play an important part in sharing information and should be written as well as given verbally to staff. You should ensure staff are fully briefed on emergency procedures and are informed well enough to comply with your risk assessment and emergency plan.