By Daniel Hunter
The Diamond Jubilee weekend looks set to be the biggest national celebration for decades with about 3,500 road closure applications for street parties having been received by councils so far, despite it still being three months away.
Coupled with the thousands of other events planned in gardens, parks, pubs, village greens and town squares, the scale of celebration is likely to be even greater than that of last year's Royal Wedding.
Town halls are being inundated daily with inquiries about the June weekend, which also includes the annual Big Lunch — this year called 'The Big Jubilee Lunch' and a part of Buckingham Palace's Diamond Jubilee programme — and are pulling out the stops to make organising events as straightforward as possible. Many are also waiving road closures fees, offering cash grants and giving out party packs.
Hertfordshire is again proving the 'party hotspot' having already received 47 road closure applications, followed closely by Nottinghamshire with 45. Portsmouth is currently the leading city outside London, with 20, and Richmond is leading the way in London with 31.
Councils in England and Wales received about 5,500 road closure applications for last April's Royal Wedding. Three months before the big day, however, they had received just a handful. This rose to about 2,000 with two months to go and 4,000 with a couple of weeks left.
"Councils told us back in January they were surprised by how many inquiries they were receiving from residents wanting to celebrate Diamond Jubilee weekend," Cllr Flick Rea, Chair of the LGA's Culture, Tourism and Sport Board, said.
"This groundswell of enthusiasm is now turning into formal applications at a rate well beyond that of the Royal Wedding. Residents are telling us they had such a great time at street parties last year that they want hold one again, and many of those who didn't get involved in the community celebrations don't want to miss out this time round.
"Bringing communities together is something councils see as one of their key roles so it's fantastic that Diamond Jubilee weekend looks set to see people everywhere coming together to enjoy a good old knees-up. Britain's street party tradition has been well and truly resurrected and people are already planning to dust down their fold-out tables and unpack the bunting.
"As they did for the Royal Wedding, councils are trying to make organising street parties as easy as possible. Straightforward guidance is readily available from council offices and online, along with simple application forms. Many councils have waived road closure fees where possible, others are supplying party packs and many handing out grants to support organisers. There will of course be cases where a genuine concern means a proposed celebration may not be able to go ahead, but through common sense and talking to each other councils and residents should be able to find amicable solutions to make a street party happen."
Managing large cultural events and helping communities celebrate is being discussed at this year's annual LGA Culture, Tourism and Sport conference, which takes place next week in Cardiff.
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