“Events in Harrow Policy” to Charge for the Use of Parks, Open Spaces and Adopted Harrow Council Highways for Events:
Harrow Council published a draft “Events Policy” in October 2015, in which charges were to be introduced for anyone wishing to use council owned parks, open spaces or adopted highways for public or private events. In the draft document a small discount of 20% only in the sizable fees and charges payable was to be granted to charities and community organisations, which, with the requirement also for large deposits, would have made arranging many traditional community events financially unviable. The result of these proposed charges would not as intended have raised revenue for the Council. They would simply have ended many much enjoyed community events.
Many community groups and others responded to the consultation on this proposed new policy, with 95% of the responses coming from the Pinner area where many and varied community events are held every year. After the consultation Harrow Council has rewritten their “Events Policy” and this revised policy was adopted at the Harrow Council Cabinet meeting on the 18th of February 2016.
The Pinner Association welcomes the revisions to the Harrow Council Events Policy to increase the discount in the new hire and other fees to 80% for charities and community groups holding events in parks, open spaces or adopted streets, and the removal of a requirement for large deposits from such organisations. We are particularly pleased that notable annual occasions such as the Remembrance Sunday Services are to be exempt from charges. The change in the definition of “small event” to allow this category to cover events with up to 500 persons attending will assist many community groups in continuing to run their traditional events, and may encourage the organisation of new types of community events in the borough.
However, we are still concerned that the detailed and legalistically worded application form required for all but “small” events may be a disincentive to some community groups to organise larger scale events. There are also many very small activities organised every year by the local places of worship and other community groups and these may well cease if these are classed as “events” and therefore disproportionately onerous paperwork is required. Only time will tell if this is the case.