Your Best Guide to Permissions, Licences, and Safety Considerations if You are Planning a Big Event

Planning and hosting a successful event for your community, organisation, or company is an awesome feat, and can only be successful if you plan it carefully and pay attention to the big picture and the small details. It takes a lot of effort and foresight, not to mention commitment, to come up with an event loved by all, and if you are in charge of an event of such magnitude, it’s essential to know what you need to do from the get-go. But along with planning your entertainment and menu and venue and everything else, you also have to think about any permissions or licences you have to obtain, depending on the kind of event you are having and what you are offering. Along with this come various safety elements and aspects as well. It’s something that most of us are not entirely aware of, especially if this is our first time planning an event like this. So what do you need to know about permissions, licences, and safety considerations if you plan a big event? Here’s your best guide.

The good news

The good news is that not many event activities would require a licence or permit. But one thing you should do is check the requirements as early as possible, because if you find out that you do need permission or a special licence, and you need to have enough time to work on it. Be aware that it could take a few months in certain cases before you can obtain the licence or permission you need.

  • If you are holding a lottery or raffle

If you are holding a lottery, you don’t need to register it if it is not commercial and only incidental. It would include not just raffles but also tombolas and sweepstakes. In this instance, you need to sell your tickets for these events and then announce the winners right at the event itself. Also, any attendee at your event, even children, can participate. But the expenses you deduct from the lottery or raffle’s proceeds should not be over £100, and you cannot spend over £500 on the prizes (but this doesn’t include prizes that have been donated).

If you are hosting a bingo night, for example, it doesn’t require any licence as long as you are doing it for a good cause. The event can only be classified as for a “good cause” if none of your proceeds will be used for private consumption or gain, and your players have to know which cause or organisation will benefit from the funds you have raised.

  • If you are offering entertainment

Another good thing is that some events don’t require you to have any entertainment licence, particularly between 8 in the morning to 11 in the evening. These would include live musical performances for an audience, live musical performances for an audience consisting of as many as 200 individuals, and performances of dances and plays for an audience of as many as 500 individuals. If you are hosting an indoor event (for sports), you don’t need an entertainment licence for an audience comprised of as many as 1000 individuals, either.

Other performances, such as karaoke (done between 8 in the morning to 11 in the evening with an audience of less than or equal to 200) or live incidental musical performances don’t require licences as well.

If you are thinking of providing music that has been pre-recorded at a public event, confirm with your venue and see if it has a licence from either the Performing Rights Society (PRS) for Music or Phonographic Performance Limited or PPL.

Requirements on safety

In many cases, you would only have to be realistic when considering potential safety issues and the effect they could have on people who are present. Along with this, you have to think about what you have to do to avoid these potential issues.

For many kinds of events, you simply have to follow some standard steps. For instance, consider the following:

  • Are there any (low or high) risks of anyone being hurt or harmed by various hazards? How severe could the damage be?
  • Are there any likely accidents that could occur from your event, and who could be hurt or harmed?
  • What are the steps you need to take to control those risks and prioritise safety at your event?

Some aspects you should also think about include the event’s layout (making sure that vehicles and people can move safely) and the number of attendees so you can manage both the entrance and exit points. You also have to ensure that your venue is free from any trip or slip hazards, and avoid taking undue risks if you decide to put up large tents or marquees. If you would like a marquee, have it erected and dismantled by the company you are hiring rather than do it yourself.

Make sure that structures such as bouncy or inflatable castles and rides have updated inspection certifications and are correctly tethered and installed. They should be used according to the guidance and instructions of the manufacturer, as leading funfair and stall hire companies like attest.

Also, if you are hiring rides for a fairground event, make sure they have an updated conformity certificate, equal to the MOT certificate for vehicles. Take note of electrical risks and safety as well – for instance, if you are using main voltage outdoors, utilise a trip device, so the current gets cut off when it makes contact with a live part. Of course, first aid is another critical consideration, so ensure that you have made arrangements for this, too.

Hosting a successful big event is entirely possible, but only with the right know-how and expectations. Whenever you can, consult with experts and deal only with reputable providers who can give you guarantees. Take note of fire safety and make sure the food you serve at your event is safe by inspecting the food prep and serving equipment and facilities and making sure the facilities used for washing are adequate as well.  When all is said and done, you can relax – and finally enjoy the rewards of your labour.

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