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Tuesday, 22 January, 2002, 15:09 GMT
Street party cost 'threatens Jubilee flop'
Silver Jubilee street party
An estimated 100,000 street parties were held in 1977
The cost and difficulty involved in staging street parties for the Queen's Golden Jubilee celebrations is threatening to make the event a flop, it is reported.

Only a handful of community gatherings have so far been planned around the country, according to a survey carried out by The Times newspaper.

The paper blames the high cost of planning a street party for the public apathy. Organisers must now obtain liability insurance and road closure licences - unlike 1977, when millions took to the streets for the Silver Jubilee.

Ministers are now under pressure to subsidise the expense of organising neighbourhood events to prevent the event from becoming a failure, the Times claims.

Costly business

Liability insurance can cost 150 for even a modest event, and is needed if organisers are to avoid possible damage claims in the event of someone suffering an injury and deciding to sue.

Planning permission is also required to close roads before a street party can be held. This costs 150 and can take three months to arrange.

The Times even reports that emergency legislation is being considered, to limit the need for liability insurance.

The requirements are much more onerous than in 1977

Barry Peek
Golden Jubilee Summer Party
One government source is quoted by the paper as saying: "Maybe the answer is to waive the costs at local authority level to encourage people to come out. We have to do something to kick-start this.

"Street parties are the most obvious public demonstrations of affection for the monarchy. But they do not seem to be taking off yet."

But polling company Opinion Leader Research (OLR) blames public apathy, rather than bureaucracy, for the lack of enthusiasm.

Spokeswoman Viki Cooke said: "The study suggests a lack of interest, rather than red tape or cost, may be behind fears that the Jubilee could flop.

"There's a clear need for communication that enthuses people about the celebrations.

"Perhaps we need reminding that in 1977, when Britain was bankrupt and facing industrial strife, the Silver Jubilee provided a focus for fabulous parties."

Royals 'nervous'

There is reported to be concern in royal circles at the lack of public interest.

An unnamed senior courtier is quoted by the paper as saying: "There is great nervousness at the level of public response by comparison with the extraordinary success of 1977.

"There are endless meetings to try to find ways to capture the public imagination."

Jubilee Celebrations
Extra Bank Holiday
Four towns given city status
Special garden parties for Accession Day babies
Golden Jubilee tour of England, Scotland, Wales and N Ireland
New 5 coin to mark the Golden Jubilee
Classical concert in Buckingham Palace gardens
Pop concert in Buckingham Palace grounds
Jubilee church services
Beacons lit across the UK
Carnival Pageant in The Mall
Barry Peek, chairman of the Golden Jubilee Summer Party, which is co-ordinating street activities across the country, told the Times: "The requirements are much more onerous than in 1977.

"We are actually encouraging people to hold a party in their front or back garden to try to circumvent the red tape."

Voluntary organisations are able to apply for grants for Jubilee-related events, of between 500 and 5,000.

The Buckingham Palace website, which provides a "toolkit" for people holding community events, advises organisers to start planning parties nine months in advance.

Charity call

The actual anniversary of the Queen's accession to the throne is 6 February, but most events will take place during the long weekend of 1-4 June.

These will include a royal procession to St Paul's Cathedral and a carnival pageant.

Silver Jubilee decorations
Will 2002 see a similar display of patriotism?
There will also be a competition to grant city status to four towns - one each in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The Queen has asked that those organising celebrations include a donation to one or more of five charities nominated for her Jubilee year.

The BBC's Jennie Bond
"Things are now going very smoothly"
See also:

03 Jan 02 | England
The Queen steps out for Jubilee
14 Jan 02 | England
Town chimes in for Jubilee
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