By Daniel Hunter
Councils have received about 6,500 road closure applications from people wanting to hold a street party over the Queen's Diamond Jubilee weekend, 1,000 more than for last year's Royal Wedding with two months still to go.
Alongside the tens of thousands of other events planned in gardens, parks, pubs, village greens, care homes, and town squares, the scale of national celebration looks set to surpass anything experienced for decades.
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 councils are also waiving road closures fees, offering cash grants and giving out party packs.
Hertfordshire is again proving the party hotspot having already received 160 road closure applications, followed by Nottinghamshire with 108. Coventry is currently the leading city outside London, with 58, and Richmond is leading the way in London with 98. However, as an illustration of the true scale of celebrations Newham Council, which has launched a Let's Get The Party Started campaign, has received 30 road closure applications but is aware of 200 other community get-togethers in its borough.
The Big Lunch, organised by The Eden Project, gives out packs to organisers which provide invites, posters, a wall planner, stickers and recipes to help encourage neighbours to get involved. This year it's already received eight times as many packs than were requested in total last year. Streets Alive, an organisation which offers advice on community celebrations, has a Street Party Website which has seen its hits trebled in the last month to 1,200 a day.
Councils in England and Wales received about 5,500 road closure applications for last April's Royal Wedding. Two months before the big day they had only received about 2,000.
Cllr Flick Rea, Chair of the LGA's Culture, Tourism and Sport Board, said:
"Two months ago councils told us that based on the huge volume of enquiries they were receiving they were expecting the number of Diamond Jubilee street parties to be greater than for the Royal Wedding. That we've reached that stage already with two months still to go is amazing. Residents 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.
"These street parties are just the tip of the iceberg. There will be tens of thousands of other events in gardens, parks, pubs, village greens, care homes and town squares. The scale of national celebration looks set to be unlike anything we've experienced for decades.
"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 next month the nation's roads will be bedecked with bunting, balloons and fold-out tables.
"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."
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