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Decision details

Policy for Use of Events on Parks and Open Space

Decision Maker: Executive Councillor for Streets and Open Spaces

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No


To approve changes relating the management of events on Parks and Open Space.


Public Question

A Ward Councillor asked a question as set out below.


Councillor Bick raised the following points:

  i.  Welcomed the report and involvement of the community in events.

  ii.  Wished to avoid damage to open spaces and use by unplanned events.

  iii.  Queried changes to the table in Appendix 1:

a.  Were these maximum figures or targets?

b.  What was the current usage?

c.  Residents had some concerns about the number of events taking place.

  iv.  Experienced difficulty accessing on-line consultation reports referenced in the Officer’s report.

  v.  Event organisers should pay for damage to the surface of open spaces. Prevention was better than cure. This may require more supervision during set up and clear away.

  vi.  Asked Officers/Executive Councillor to review the maximum number of people allowable on Parker’s Piece events with a view to reducing it from 5,000.

 vii.  Asked the Executive Councilor to clarify which events she would not allow to use open spaces eg business promotion corporate events. The intention was to be clear upfront that open spaces were for residents’ use.


The Chair clarified to the Committee that Cambridge Live provided events on behalf of the City Council.


The Streets and Open Spaces Development Manager responded:

  i.  (P39 / addendum sheet) Appendix 1 - Event Number and Limits by location. The table did not list 2011 figures (to give a benchmark), but figures in the proposed 2018 policy should be the same except for ‘Neighbourhood Parks’ which had an allowance for 2 medium sized events.

  ii.  Consultation papers were listed as background documents in the Officer’s report and therefore accessible upon request. The documents would be put on the City Council’s event page in future as another point of access.

  iii.  Officers were already using their discretion to reject most of corporate events if they were likely to be of limited or no public interest, and that ward councillors often challenged any the officers didn't reject out of hand.

  iv.  Three out of a possible five events had been hosted on Christs Pieces. These had been small although larger ones were possible.

  v.  It was intended to modify the job descriptions for Streets and Open Spaces Officers to allow on-site supervision of events.


The Executive Councillor referred to P29.

  i.  Medium sized events of 500-5,000 attendees could be hosted on open spaces. The figures were guiding criteria for event size (not targets), the land area would limit how many people could attend.

  ii.  Appropriate sized events would be held in appropriate places with appropriate footfall.


Matter for Decision

The hosting of events on city parks and open spaces had become increasingly popular with both local and national event providers.  The Council received around 300 enquiries for events every year, hosting between 80 and 100 with a range of individual and very different activities.


The proposed new policy aimed to manage the expectations of those seeking to host events in our parks and open spaces, as well as establishing, from the outset, a greater understanding of the constraints, within which event organisers must operate.


Decision of Executive Councillor for Streets and Open Spaces

  i.  Approved and adopt the policy for the management and use of our parks and open spaces for events, as set out in appendix A;

  ii.  Approved the proposed new fees and charges pricing structure for events on our parks and open spaces, as set out in appendix B;

  iii.  Instructed Officers to pursue the use of information technology to bring efficiencies to the event application process; and

  iv.  Instructed officers to seek and profile funding to make improvements to utility infrastructure to reduce the environmental impact of events, and training/ advice to local community groups to support improvements in the management of events.


Reason for the Decision

As set out in the Officer’s report.


Any Alternative Options Considered and Rejected

Not applicable.


Scrutiny Considerations

The Committee received a report from the Streets and Open Spaces Development Manager.


The Committee made the following comments in response to the report:

  i.  Honeycomb surfaces at public events were welcomed by people with disabilities.

  ii.  Open spaces needed some maintenance work to repair damage after events.

  iii.  Suggested people were less likely to ‘make good’ if public spaces were affected by deterioration in quality caused by cumulative impact from events.

  iv.  Proactive management by event managers during events could reduce their environmental impact and reduce the need to tidy up afterwards. For example planning to cook less food to reduce waste, and avoiding single use trays.

  v.  Expressed concern about noise from events on Christs Pieces impacting on neighbouring residents.

  vi.  There appeared to be no charge to event organisers for the loss of community public space whilst repairs were being undertaken.


The Streets and Open Spaces Development Manager said the following in response to Members’ questions:

  i.  Sustainability/waste management was covered in event terms and conditions to minimise waste and maximise recycling.

  ii.  The use of non-domestic animals was a reason to refuse permission for events. The use of animals was of concern to the public. The City Council followed guidance set out in legislation eg the prohibition of dangerous animals in public spaces. Falconry was not covered in the scope of the Officer’s report to committee, a separate one could be brought back in future.


The Senior Asset Development Officer said management plans were being worked up for Jesus Green and Christ Pieces. Biodiversity was an important consideration. There was an option to hold medium sized events (up to 4,999 people) on these open spaces, but the space available would determine which events were authorised. The focus was more on 500-1,000 people events.


The Executive Councillor said officers used City Council policy criteria to judge the appropriateness of proposed events. Officers consulted councillors on events in public spaces and gave recommendations to approve them or not.


  iii.  Officers were confident they had the ability to take a measured view to allow events of various sizes on public open spaces. Events were timetabled to alternate the use of spaces between public and commercials event usage where possible to avoid two back to back bookings. Councillor input was sought pre-event and residents’ feedback after large events.

  iv.  Cattle grazed on Coldhams Common from 1 April to 1 November. They could be moved on/off the common for events, but this was kept to a minimum.

  v.  Undertook to investigate concerns about people driving on the grass in Christ Pieces and Jesus Green. Unauthorised access was suspected to be the cause.

  vi.  The condition of open spaces was monitored pre/post-event and the organiser billed to make up the difference between the two.

 vii.  A stand pipe for drinking water was provided at events. There was a risk this could not always be provided. Suggested investigating the possibility of putting in more stand pipes in future.

viii.  Charity or commercial rates could be charged for events. The charity rate applied to volunteer and not for profit events. Events that charged a fee would incur the commercial rate.


The Senior Asset Development Officer said an administration application fee was charged to discourage spurious applications. He recommended event organisers made an application for multiple events in one go to reduce their administration charge.


Councillors O’Connell and Sinnott requested a change to the text setting out reasons to refuse events 6.2e (agenda P34).


It was agreed nem con to use equality statement terms. Amendments to Policy text discussed at Committee to be agreed by Officers, Chair, Opposition Spokes and Executive Councillor.


The Committee resolved by 7 votes to 0 to endorse the recommendations.


The Executive Councillor approved the recommendations.


Conflicts of Interest Declared by the Executive Councillor (and any Dispensations Granted)

No conflicts of interest were declared by the Executive Councillor.

Publication date: 02/03/2018

Date of decision: 18/01/2018