Appendix Two - the law governing road closures
There are two sets of legislation that can be used to authorise a road closure: The Town Police Clauses Act 1847 and the Road Traffic Regulations Act 1984. Once the need for and location of a closure is confirmed, the nature of the event will determine the legislation used. The relevant legislation is not always obvious but, broadly, the legislation used will be as follows:
- sporting / leisure events on the highway will require the use the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. (for example cycle races, triathlons, running races)
- events involving processions, rejoicing, illuminations or ‘thronging’ will generally use the Town Police Clauses Act 1847. (such as carnivals, Remembrance Day events).
The legislation used will have little effect on the event promoter. However, it must be noted that each road can only be closed once per year using the Road Traffic Regulations Act 1984. Accordingly, this may influence the decision on whether a closure using this legislation could be granted if the road has previously been closed for another event earlier in the year.
Public Liability insurance is required for all road closure orders made using the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 by the traffic authority, which will almost always require £10 million in cover. Public liability for closures made using the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 generally range between £5 million and £10 million depending on the district council processing the order. In exceptional circumstances, the amount of liability insurance may be reduced. Any reductions will be based on a risk assessment of the event and the measures undertaken by the event promoter to minimise risk.
There may be costs associated with processing a road closure order that the event promoter will need to meet. In exceptional circumstances, the district council or traffic authority processing the order may waive or reduce these charges.
Following the correct legal procedure for processing road closures takes time, so there is usually a minimum notice period required for any road closure request. This will depend on the road being closed, the legislation being used, the type of event and the authority processing it. Notice periods range from six weeks to six months. Event promoters should contact the relevant organisation, either the district council or the traffic authority, to find out what precise notice period required as soon as the need for a closure is decided. Without the correct advance notice period it may not be possible to process a closure application.
The vast majority of road closures will require a diversion route. Diversion routes are usually decided by the local district council or the traffic authority. The traffic authority will make every effort to keep the diversion route clear of other incidents, works or events. However, it is possible that an unplanned incident or emergency works has to be carried out on the diversion route. Accordingly, a backup diversion route may need to be considered. This is usually only necessary for large or events lasting more than one day.