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Monday, 27 May, 2002, 19:40 GMT 20:40 UK
Nation finds its party spirit
Street party
There will be street parties in 2002 like 1977 after all

Fears that Golden Jubilee street parties will be a flop may well be unfounded, BBC News Online has discovered.

At the beginning of the year, some commentators warned prohibitive costs and red tape were making the old-fashioned events difficult to stage.

Detractors said that unlike the Silver Jubilee in 1977, when millions took to the streets, apathy this time around threatened to derail the celebrations.

But with just a week to go, planning for many parties the length and breadth of the country is in full swing.

There was a slowish start but we've had a late flood of applications

Lincolnshire council

Holding a street party appeared more complicated than in 1977.

Initially, organisers had to apply for licenses to close off their roads, at a cost of 150.

And then there was a requirement from councils to get insurance for the events, costing another 150.

But now many councils have waived the usual administration fees.

Renewed respect

And other residents have simply shifted their parties to back gardens and village greens to avoid the bureaucracy.

In Lincolnshire, where the Conservative council put aside 10,000 for Jubilee festivities, 80 licenses for road closures have been granted.

There was no charge for the licenses and each event is being sent 100 party poppers to make their day go with a bang.

Spokesman Steve Jackson said: "There was a slowish start but we've had a late flood of applications."

It was suggested that renewed respect for the Queen since the deaths of her mother, the Queen Mother, and sister, Princess Margaret, might encourage people to join in the celebrations.

Many people will be celebrating the 50-year reign

Bruno Peek, chairman of the Golden Jubilee Summer Party, which is co-ordinating street activities across the country, said he had seen nothing to support that theory.

He reported a "steady stream" of interest and said he was "delighted" with the way planning for the celebrations was going.

He admitted the number of street parties would be nowhere near the 1977 levels but he said there were 2,000 other events.

"Times have changed," he said.

"A lot of people are choosing to organise events other than street parties - parties in pubs and gardens - many of which we know nothing about."

Urban split

Thousands of events are listed on the Summer Party's official website, including 1,800 beacons being lit across the world.

But according to anecdotal evidence, preparations for many more are, as Mr Peek suspects, going unrecorded.

Rebecca Williams, of National Neighbourhood Watch, says the majority of the organisation's local co-ordinators are holding events.

"A lot of people are having parties but not registering them. If they are just for friends and neighbours there seems little point," she said.

No-one will ever really know how many festivities took place

Bruno Peek
Golden Jubilee Summer Party

What the official website and applications for road closures do reveal is a gulf between festivities in urban and rural areas.

Counties like Gloucestershire, Kent, the Highlands and Oxfordshire are awash with events.

But in Newcastle, where two events are registered, the council has issued only five licenses for street parties.

In Middlesbrough, where six roads are being closed, a council spokesman said street parties "hadn't taken off".

Jubilee theme

In fact on the official website, there are more events registered for Nepal than there are for the Scottish city of Dundee.

However, the city council does point out that it waived the fee for road closures and told people they could go ahead with parties if they lived on quiet streets.

In the London borough of Islington, there will only be two roads closed for parties.

But the council has distributed 50,000 in grants so "people can choose the way they want to celebrate".

Mr Peek says that is the theme of the Jubilee this time around.

"Its success cannot be judged by how many streets parties are held.

"No-one will ever really know how many festivities took place."

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