Organising and running public events can present various risks for councils. Essentially, there are two important risk management factors to think about—trying to prevent something going wrong, and adequate insurance in case it does.
Organising a council-run event—key risk management considerations

Planning any public event takes a lot of organisation, from deciding on the location and scale of the event to getting the right team on board, engaging the community, and ensuring every aspect of the event comes together to make it a success. Something that should always run through this entire process is managing and mitigating risk—for the public, contractors, council employees and the council itself.

Doing the groundwork

It may sound obvious, but before you organise anything, check that you are not competing with any local activities or events on your chosen date so you don’t run the risk of low attendance. When getting your team together, you should ensure you have the adequate skills, expertise, training and numbers (for example, sufficient marshals for the number of attendees expected). A risk assessment should be carried out and documented prior to the event, and the venue/location deemed suitable.

Permits and licences

Put together a full list of activities, who is responsible for them, and whether all permits and licences are in place for third parties attending the event—for example, catering vans, non-council run stalls, bands, fairground rides and bouncy castles. All third parties must have their own public liability insurance, evidenced to the council. However, stalls run for no financial gain by local people or groups who do not have their own public liability insurance in place may be covered under the council’s policy, so this is something you should check.

It may also be the case that for events to be insured under the council’s insurance policy, the council, a working party or a sub-committee of the council must be the sole organiser of the event, so check with your insurance broker. You should also advise your broker of any event with more than 1,000 attendees at any one time.

COVID-19 status checks

From 27 January 2022, it is no longer mandatory for certain high-risk events and venues to check the COVID-19 status of attendees as a condition of entry. However, if there are large crowds and/or people are in close contact, you may choose to do this to keep attendees and staff safer. If so, those carrying out the checks should be familiar with the latest government guidance, including guidance on data protection. Of course, rules around attendee numbers and social distancing may well change again, such is the nature of the pandemic, so councils will need to ensure they remain up to date with any changes, and adhere to the rules.


If you are using a generator for your electricity, the generator enclosure should be accessible for normal operations or emergencies, but segregated from public areas of the venue, with clear danger warning signs around the intake or enclosure. If you are using mains electricity, there should be circuit breakers in place, cables should be covered with matting or cable ramps and, where possible, you should segregate vehicle traffic and cable routes. If the event is outdoors, you will need to protect electrical equipment that could be exposed to rain or other adverse conditions with suitable and sufficient covers, enclosures or shelters.


The site of bonfires or bonfire beacons should be at least 75 metres away from property or vehicles which are not owned, hired or rented by the council. If this is an issue, you will need to seek your insurer’s approval before cover can be confirmed.

Hired equipment

You may require loss or damage cover for hired equipment such as generators, portable toilets, or lighting. If so, your insurer will need to know the sum insured required, the duration of the hire, security arrangements and storage details.

How can Gallagher help?

Gallagher is one of the leading providers of public sector insurance, with a dedicated team focusing solely on serving this sector. Many local councils look to us to help them navigate the risks they face—we can design bespoke insurance programmes to meet their needs, as well as providing risk management advice and guidance.

If you would like to speak to us about cover for a specific event, conducting a review of your insurance programmes, or have a risk management query you would like to discuss, we are here to help. You can also visit our Public Sector page for more information on the ways in which we can work with your organisation.

This note is not intended to give legal or financial advice, and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon for such. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and/or market practice in this area. In preparing this note we have relied on information sourced from third parties and we make no claims as to the completeness or accuracy of the information contained herein. It reflects our understanding as at 15 February 2022, but you will recognise that matters concerning COVID-19 are fast changing across the world. You should not act upon information in this bulletin nor determine not to act, without first seeking specific legal and/or specialist advice. Our advice to our clients is as an insurance broker and is provided subject to specific terms and conditions, the terms of which take precedence over any representations in this document. No third party to whom this is passed can rely on it. We and our officers, employees or agents shall not be responsible for any loss whatsoever arising from the recipient’s reliance upon any information we provide herein and exclude liability for the content to fullest extent permitted by law. Should you require advice about your specific insurance arrangements or specific claim circumstances, please get in touch with your usual contact at Gallagher.

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