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Public events planning

Dorset has many successful public events, which makes it a great place to live and to visit. Most of these events are run by volunteers but there are also some large professional companies operating in the county on an annual basis.

Safety Advisory Groups

The six borough and district councils in Dorset each have a Public Events, Safety Advisory Group (SAG) to ensure organisers of events and gatherings can work with recognised specialists from the public services to meet the safety and security responsibilities the organisers inherit for their event planning and delivery.

Supporting partner agencies and SAG members:

  • Dorset Police (Community Policing and Operations Planning)
  • Dorset County Council (Highways Management, Trading Standards and Emergency Planning)
  • Borough and district councils (Environmental Health, Emergency Planning, Licensing, Building Control, Outdoor Leisure)
  • Dorset Fire and Wiltshire and Rescue Service (Legislative Fire Safety Team)
  • Health Agencies (Public Health England)
  • South West Ambulance Service Trust
  • HM Coastguard

SAG members maintain an open and constructive approach to event safety and resilience. In some cases they will support the event by undertaking site visits during the building or delivery of an event. SAGs are also an excellent forum to organise emergency response exercises prior to the event.

Local authority SAGs exist to:

  • Promote high levels of safety and welfare at events by giving advice and guidance
  • Promote good practice in safety and welfare planning for events
  • Ensure events have a minimal adverse impact on the community

How the Safety Advisory Group helps guide event organisers

All large events in Dorset have existing relationships with their respective safety advisory groups, however if you are planning for a new event and are in search of guidance there are a number of tools available to read below. These tools help event organisers in documenting their procedures for both the "steady state" (normal operation) of the event as well as during an emergency (crisis state).

Event guidance

General guidance for larger events

The Purple Guide - the essential guide to event organising. Please note there is a £25 subscription fee to access the information on this website

West Dorset guidance for organisers of large events - aimed at events of more than 500 people

Understanding crowd behaviours - these reports provide planners with clear direction, and supporting information, about the assumptions that can reasonably be made about crowd behaviour

Water guidelines for festivals - this guidance is useful for any event that is supplying water

General guidance for small-scale events

Local small events guide - based on the principles of health and safety management and risk assessment

Specific guidance

Guidance for events with bonfires or fireworks

Guidance for planning street parties

Guidance for organising a voluntary event

Guidance for holding cycling events

The Purbeck Cycling Plan

Balloon and Sky Lantern Release Policy 2018 - North Dorset

Balloon and Sky Lantern Release Policy 2018 - West Dorset

Balloon and Sky Lantern Release Policy 2018 - Weymouth and Portland

Contacting your local SAG

If you intend to hold a festival or gathering in the foreseeable future it is recommended that you contact the SAG Chairperson in your area well in advance of your event and outline the event details such as its scale, target audience and the intended activities on site and proposed dates. A large scale event intended to host thousands of people can take over 12 months of planning from concept to the delivery stage (depending upon its complexity).

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