Highways chiefs facing calls for 'lighter approach' over road closure costs impacting Remembrance Day events
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HIGHWAYS chiefs are facing calls for a ‘lighter touch’ approach to Remembrance Day parades across Hertfordshire – as it emerged organisers are now having to employ approved traffic management companies.
Typically Remembrance Day events include a parade and wreath-laying ceremony – and are a chance for a community to show their respect for the fallen.
But this year when parade organisers applied for permission to close a road, they were told they needed to use trained traffic management specialists, from a list approved by the county council.
And in some cases that is believed to have added hundreds of pounds onto the cost of events.
In response, the county council has told the LDRS that they are now asking organisers to use professional companies ‘to ensure the safety of the public’.
And they say they have done so because the level of police support offered to organisers in previous years was no longer available.
“In the past, road closures for Remembrance Sunday events have been supported by police officers from Hertfordshire,” said a county council spokesperson.
“But this year due to resourcing pressures the same level of support was unavailable, therefore we stepped in to ensure as many events that required road closures could take place.
“While we do ask applicants for road closures to seek the support of professional and trained traffic management specialists, we do so to ensure the safety of the public.”
But even in the lead-up to Remembrance Sunday the county council was already facing calls for a different approach to be adopted for Remembrance Day parades next year.
And at a meeting of the council’s public health and community safety cabinet panel on Wednesday (November 8) the issue was raised by Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd.
He stressed that the police only had the power to close a road in an emergency – saying it would be unlawful for the police to use these powers to close a road for a pre-planned event.
But – after highlighting reports of £2500 additional costs – he suggested a ‘lighter touch’ approach could be used in future years.
“. . . I have been hearing about an impression that the police aren’t attending and not implementing road closures due to a lack of resource,” he said.
“That’s not the case.
“The police will attend where there is a need.
“However the police only have the power to close a road in an emergency. […] It is unlawful for the those those powers to close a road for a ore-planned event.”
At the meeting Mr Lloyd also asked whether the council could – ‘with police help’ – explore whether road closures for Remembrance Sunday next year could be treated in the same way as they were for the Jubilee.
“I have no idea if it is possible and of course it’s not in my purview, it’s within the county council’s,” he said.
“But it strikes me there must be some way of making it lighter touch – so that actually those who wish to plan an event, can plan an event to remember our fallen.”
At the same meeting Liberal Democrat Cllr John Hale suggested a ‘couple of places’ were facing additional costs amounting to thousands of pounds.
He said that as a result of the cost some villages had even considered axing the Remembrance Day parades.
And he suggested it was something the council needed to ‘look at’ for next year.
Following the meeting, a spokesperson for the county council stressed that the council did not itself charge for road closures for Remembrance Sunday.
And he said that they had worked with those organisers who had been working under ‘financial constraints’.
“The county council does not charge for road closures for Remembrance Sunday,” he said.
“And where applicants have engaged with us and explained potential financial constraints we have worked to support them to ensure the best outcome for all involved.”