Traffic management and use of public highways

Whilst the freedom to hold events, to march and to demonstrate is important, so too is the freedom of people to go about their normal daily business, with a minimum of disruption.

Accordingly, every effort must be made to ensure that a balance is struck between the rights and freedoms of those taking part in an event and those living and working close by.

In general the public perception is that the police are the lead agency for approving all public events, including those which take place on the public highway.

In reality the Police have no authority to either approve or ban such events and, in fact, police powers to regulate traffic for planned events are extremely limited.

The Traffic Management Act of 2004 places the responsibility for traffic management matters for events on or affecting the highway on the Highway Authority for the area in which the event takes place.

Furthermore, the Police have no general duty to preserve public safety at any public event, except where there are imminent or likely threats to life.

Legal opinion suggests that the responsibility for public safety rests with the organisers of an event, the owners of the land on which it takes place and possibly the Highway Authority if the event takes place on a road. However, other persons or agencies who undertake actions regarding public safety at an event may assume a duty of care and, therefore, also become responsible

Event Organisers should liaise with the relevant highway or local  authority to discuss the traffic management implications for any planned event.

Road closures

Temporary road closures, traffic restrictions and alternative routes all require careful consideration. Depending on the scale of the event initial consultation may include representatives of the emergency services and take place through a Safety Advisory Group.

The Traffic Management Plan should not include the use of police resources in order to control/direct traffic, unless a prior arrangement has been entered into with the Police, and the provision of Police resources is to be paid for by the event organiser.

Police resources will only be used to deal with spontaneous traffic incidents which may occur during the duration of an event.  Once the incident has been resolved the officers will resume their normal duties.

A temporary road closure application must be made in the following circumstances:

  • If there is any likelihood of event participants or crowds over-spilling onto the Highway.
  • If it is necessary to prevent traffic flow, for however short a duration, to facilitate the event e.g. a march or parade.
  • If the volume of persons taking part/attending an event on the highway means that road safety will be compromised.
  • If it is necessary to control traffic flow by managing the routes available for use e.g. a march, parade or carnival.

Event Organisers must also provide:

  • Details of the roads to be closed, together with the length and the duration of the closure
  • A detailed proposed diversion route
  • A schedule of signing giving details of the location of diversion signs and road closure signing, together with a map showing these positions.
  • The overall location and the environs of the event and specific event location
  • Details of any road junctions identified as critical to the traffic management plan
  • The proposed number of stewards for the event and their positions
  • Details of the methods to be used to close roads i.e. barrier type, signing etc. All signs placed on the highway must comply with the Traffic Signs and General Directions Regulations 2002, or be specially authorised by the Highway Authority. 'Felt tip on a piece of plywood' is not acceptable. Roads should be closed using the appropriate red and white barrier
  • Management of pedestrian activity, in the case of events such as carnivals, marathons etc.

All the above measures must be provided in order that consideration of any proposed road closure can take place. Organisers are advised to contact the relevant Highway Authority who will issue an application pack for a temporary road closure.

Event Organisers should also consider:

  • The implications for other road users such as the emergency services, bus companies, taxis etc and the suitability of any proposed diversion route for use by such vehicles (consider large goods vehicles, coaches, refuse collection lorries etc)
  • Provision for vehicle removal from any road which is subject to a closure and which would cause obstruction for the event
  • Liaison with premises such as churches, mosques, temples, shops and register offices etc to ensure access requirements are discussed and any issues resolved

29 Jun 21 10:56 AM

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