Is It OK to hold ticket-only events in parks?
Posted: 27th November 2017
Public parks are frequently rented out by local authorities as ticket-only venues – but is there any legal basis for that practice? Following a test case, the Court of Appeal has answered that question in the affirmative.
The case concerned a public park that, by operation of the Open Spaces Act 1906, was held by the local authority on trust to promote its enjoyment by the public as an open space. The council authorised the organisers of a festival to use the park for an event that was expected to draw up to 40,000 music lovers. On performance days, 27% of the park would be closed to the public.
Objectors mounted a judicial review challenge to that decision on the basis that the council had no power to exclude the public from the whole or any part of the park. In dismissing their arguments, however, a judge found that the council was enabled to rent out part of the park to the organisers by Section 145 of the Local Government Act 1972.
In rejecting the objectors’ appeal against that ruling, the Court noted that the council had an express power under Section 145(2)(a) to enclose or set apart any part of the park. On a true interpretation of that provision, it conferred on the council a power to exclude members of the public – in particular those who had not bought a ticket for the festival – from enclosed sections of the park.