World Car Free Day 2022 is celebrated across the world on Thursday 22 September. It encourages motorists to choose alternative travel such as walking and cycling or public transport, instead of using their car for the day.

The closing date for applications has been extended to 5 August.

Refused applications

We will refuse your application if there are planned road works or other activities that would adversely affect either the event itself or the planned works programmed. However, we would seek to find alternative dates when the event could be held. We could also refuse if we had concerns about safety.

Road closures

It is likely that a road can be closed if

  • it is not used by a large amount of through traffic,
  • is not a bus route
  • or a priority for emergency vehicles

If you do close the road we ask you put up signs advising drivers and make sure any barriers are supervised so they can be quickly moved if required.

Barriers and signs

The closure of the road and all signs are the responsibility of the event organisers. Barriers and signs used to close the road must be easily removed to allow access for the Emergency Services. We can provide two ‘Road Closed Signs’ that you can fix to a wheelie bin. The Streets Alive, Street Party website can also provide signs. Neither ours nor theirs are suitable for use during the hours of darkness. Compliant signs can be hired from shops such as HSS or through a traffic management company.

Priority network

Some of the roads in Merton are on the priority network, it may still be possible to hold the event on these roads but you will need to contact the Network Management team by email at Network.Co-ordination@merton.gov.uk  or phone 020 8545 3196 or 020 8545 3176

Insurance

Public liability insurance cover for a small residential street party is a good idea. The costs can always be split between residents.

Risk assessment

A Risk Assessment is not normally required, but it is important that all residents consider and minimise any risks to people, equipment or the road. Thinking about how you can minimise things going wrong and having a back-up plan are vital to ensuring success. What would you do if there was bad weather? Can you use plastic plates and cups rather than glass? Have you made sure an adult is in charge of the barbeque, is there adult supervision at all times when using any play equipment?

Alcohol

Licenses are only required if alcohol is sold. At a private party, sharing drinks with your neighbours does not require a licence. If you did want to sell alcohol, you will need a Temporary Event Notice.

Food

As a private party, you do not need a licence to serve food.

Music

If your street party is a private party for residents and the music is not advertised in advance to attract people and you're not making money, then there is no need for a licence for your music, whether it's live or recorded. Make sure the music is not too loud, long or late to avoid causing nuisance to others.

Cleaning up afterwards

You will need to clean up after your street party. It's your street, your party, so keep your local area clean and tidy. Let people know in advance what time the party will finish and have a section set aside for bin bags and recycling.

Accessing the street during the closure

Play Streets should not be treated as a major inconvenience as residents can still drive in and out during the session if they need to.

Stewards will ensure that all drivers wanting to drive down the road are aware that through traffic is not allowed but if a delivery needs to be made or someone is visiting, the steward will escort the driver at walking pace to their destination. 

For drivers affected by the closure it will usually only mean a small delay to journey times at weekends.  

If you do have concerns, please talk to the organisers to discuss your issues and hopefully you can reach a solution.

Impact to my business

As part of the application process, everyone within the closure area should be consulted. If you are outside the closure area, talk to the organisers about your concerns in an open neighbourly way.  

There is usually a compromise if you really need access to parking for your customers, although please remember there is no right to parking on a public highway, even for residents.  

There is strong support for children’s right to play out amongst parents and grandparents in particular, so you might even find that by being accommodating or offering support you improve your business image and get new customers.

Damage to property

In terms of damage to property (including cars), the liability situation is no different with a road closure than under normal circumstances, for example, people take responsibility for their own actions. Parents will have ultimate responsibility for their own children and residents will need to resolve any issues between each other and their insurers.

Why the road need to be closed 

Streets are far more congested than they were twenty or thirty years ago and it is no longer common to see children out playing as it used to be. Having to organise an official road closure in order to use the street in this way is not an ideal situation and is not a long-term solution. In some very quiet streets, a road closure might not be necessary in order for children to safely play in the road. However, the danger from fast-moving traffic is one of the main reasons that children don’t play outside in modern times. In many residential streets, cars, both parked and moving, dominate to such an extent that play becomes impossible. In this instance, closing the road to through-traffic and having stewards in place provides the reassurance parents need to allow their children to play out while still allowing residents car access. Ideally, our streets should be spaces where cars and people of all ages can coexist happily.  

Children from other streets visiting your Play Street

Each Play Street is organised by residents and only publicised through flyers and posters on their own street. They are for the children to have a chance to play right outside their front doors and not designed to be large scale public ‘events’.  

Although Play Streets only apply to the street which is closed, it should be remembered that the street is a public space, so it is not possible or desirable to try to exclude people coming in from outside.  

Noise

It could be argued that the sound of children playing is a wonderful thing and something we no longer hear enough of. At present, the noise associated with traffic, planes and activities such as road works can be tolerated. Even those who do not drive have to live with traffic noise, which most people have grown accustomed to.  

Children cannot be contained within houses, cars and designated ‘play areas’. The city they live in is theirs too and it is their right to use the space in the way they need to. Play Streets are normally only a few hours long and take place on a weekend.   

If a Play Street event was excessively or unreasonably loud, it may be appropriate to organise a street meeting to discuss it and try to reach a solution everyone is happy with. 

Children playing unsupervised  

Parents are responsible for their own children during sessions, but if any adult sees children playing out on the street seriously misbehaving or causing damage or injury they should take responsibility to speak to them or their parents about it in a reasonable way. Being kept in check by other adults in our community is an important learning experience. 

Children and road safety when the street is not closed 

Playing out sessions are a good opportunity for parents to talk to their children about road safety and the danger of traffic but also to observe what streets could be like if traffic was less dominant and begin to think about ways to slow cars on their street. 

People feeling excluded in the own street because they don’t have children  

The vast majority of the time, children may feel excluded from this space right outside their homes. Organisers should make sure that residents of all ages feel welcome to be out on the street and sessions do not just feel like family events. At some sessions, older residents or those without children have helped to steward or just enjoyed sitting out, meeting neighbours and sharing memories about their own childhood play experiences. Parents may assume that those without young children will not be interested in being involved, so do make it clear to them if you want to be. Your support will certainly be welcome! 

Other benefits to a Play Street event  

  • Safer and cleaner streets
  • Play Streets are a chance for parents to get together and support each other’s desire to let children play out

See also

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance and support - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Contact us

Advice and support is available for your Play Streets application. You can email us at Network.Co-ordination@merton.gov.uk