How can a UK event planning business obtain public event permits and insurance?

11 June 2024

Events are the lifeblood of many businesses, communities, and organisations. They provide a platform for networking, entertainment, and community development. However, the task of planning such events requires a great deal of preparation and compliance with legal and regulatory requirements. For event planners in the UK, a crucial part of this process involves obtaining public event permits and insurance. This article will provide a comprehensive guide on how event planning businesses can navigate through these essential steps.

Understanding the Legal Requirements for Public Events

Before delving into how to obtain permits and insurance, it is crucial to understand the legal requirements your event might entail. These legalities ensure public safety and the smooth running of the event.

Public events in the UK often require a Temporary Event Notice (TEN) issued by the local council. This permit allows for the sale or supply of alcohol, provision of regulated entertainment, or provision of late-night refreshments at your event. It's also essential to understand any specific noise restrictions, food safety regulations, and obligations to ensure the welfare of any staff or volunteers.

The event location is also a factor to consider. If your event is on private premises, you will need permission from the owner, and a Premises Licence may also be necessary. For public spaces, the local council usually provides a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO), which outlines any restrictions on behaviour within that area.

Finally, comprehensive risk management is a legal requirement. This involves creating a risk management plan that identifies potential hazards, evaluates their likelihood and impact, and outlines measures to mitigate them.

Applying for a Temporary Events Notice (TEN)

Once you have an understanding of the legal requirements for your event, you can start the process of applying for a TEN. This is usually done via your local council's website.

To apply, you will need to provide detailed information about the event, including its nature, location, expected number of attendees, and whether alcohol will be sold. The council may also require proof that you have taken steps to ensure the safety and welfare of attendees, staff, and the general public.

It's important to apply for a TEN well in advance of your event. The council usually requires at least ten working days notice, excluding the day you submit the application and the day of the event. However, it's recommended to apply as early as possible to allow time for any potential challenges or objections.

Once your application is submitted, the council will consult with the police and environmental health, who may issue a counter-notice if they believe the event could undermine crime prevention, public safety, or public nuisance objectives.

Meeting Food Safety Standards

If your event involves the preparation and selling of food, meeting food safety standards is another critical requirement. The Food Standards Agency provides guidelines for food safety that event planners must adhere to.

Firstly, ensure that the food suppliers or caterers you work with are registered with the local council and have a satisfactory food hygiene rating. The food should be prepared and stored in a hygienic environment, at the correct temperatures, to prevent foodborne illnesses.

If you're handling food at the event, your business will need a Food Business Registration. This is a free registration with your local council that needs to be completed at least 28 days before the event.

Ensure that all staff handling food are adequately trained in food hygiene. This training can be done online and usually involves understanding the basics of food safety, correct handwashing techniques, and understanding the signs of foodborne illnesses.

Procuring Event Insurance

In addition to obtaining the necessary permits, it's also vital to secure event insurance. This protects your business from financial risk associated with potential eventualities such as damage to the venue, equipment, or public liability claims.

Event insurance can typically be procured through a reputable insurance broker. When applying for insurance, you will need to provide detailed information about your event, including its size, type, and location. You'll also need to provide information about the event's activities and whether these include any high-risk elements such as fireworks or live animals.

It's important to understand the terms and conditions of your event insurance policy. This includes knowing what is covered and any exclusions, the policy excess, and what your obligations are in the event of a claim.

Ensuring Safety and Risk Management

Safety should be a fundamental concern in event planning. A comprehensive risk management plan will not only ensure the wellbeing of everyone at the event but also demonstrate your commitment to safety when applying for permits or insurance.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides guidance on creating a risk assessment for events. This involves identifying hazards, deciding who might be harmed and how, evaluating the risks and deciding on precautions, recording your findings, and reviewing and updating the plans as necessary.

Furthermore, consider investing in specialised safety equipment, such as fire extinguishers, first aid kits, and crowd control barriers. It's also advisable to have trained first aid personnel on site.

In summary, obtaining public event permits and insurance for your event planning business in the UK involves understanding and meeting legal requirements, applying for a TEN, ensuring food safety standards, procuring event insurance, and prioritising safety and risk management. By carefully navigating these steps, you can ensure that your event is not only successful, but also compliant and safe for all involved.

Formulating a Traffic Management Strategy

In the planning process of a public event, especially those held in large open spaces or on highways, it's critical to integrate an effective traffic management strategy. Brighton Hove City Council, like most city councils in the UK, requires a comprehensive strategy in place to control and potentially redirect traffic during the event.

The purpose of a traffic management plan is to ensure the smooth flow of traffic and safeguard pedestrians, attendees, and motorists from potential accidents or inconveniences. The traffic management plan should include details about road closures, diversion routes, traffic control measures and temporary signage.

You may need to hire an experienced traffic management company to assist with this, and they will typically liaise with the local council and the police to create an effective strategy.

Additionally, the traffic management plan should be integrated into your overall event risk assessment. This allows you to identify potential hazards and disruptions and plan accordingly.

For instance, in the event of an emergency, there should be a clearly defined and unobstructed route for emergency vehicles. For disabled attendees, the plan should consider accessible parking spaces and passenger drop-off points close to the event entrance.

Collaborating With the Safety Advisory Group

The Safety Advisory Group (SAG) plays an integral role in the event planning process in the UK. This group is made up of representatives from the local council, police, fire and rescue services, the ambulance service, and other relevant organisations.

The SAG provides advice to event organisers to ensure that the event is safe and meets all necessary legal requirements. They will review your event plans, risk assessments, and other documents to ensure they are comprehensive and adequate.

While the SAG cannot grant or refuse permissions for public events, their advice plays a significant role in the granting of public event permits by the local council. As an event organiser, you should engage with the SAG as early as possible in your planning process. Their expertise will help you address potential issues and ensure that your event is safe and successful.


In conclusion, professional event planners in the UK have to navigate an array of legal and safety requirements to host public events. From understanding and obtaining a TEN, meeting food safety standards, procuring liability insurance, to devising a traffic management strategy and engaging with the Safety Advisory Group - each step is essential for ensuring a successful event.

The process might seem daunting, but with diligent preparation, understanding of the law and active engagement with the local authorities, an event planning business can successfully overcome these hurdles. Remember, these regulations and requirements are put in place to ensure the safety and enjoyment of everyone involved. By complying with these, an event organiser not only safeguards their business but also contributes to creating memorable and safe experiences for the community.

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