Things to consider when organising an event


The information on these pages is for organisations who want to arrange an event on land owned by the Council.

It also applies to events being held on private land.

These pages provide outline guidance only and should not be treated as a definitive statement of Council policy or the law.

If you need more information or advice, contact the Safety Advisory Group on 0191 424 7899.

Safety and security

Event safety is your responsibility, so put safety first.

South Tyneside Council has a duty of care to the users and visitors of our facilities.

You must tell the Council about your proposed event in advance so we can verify your safety arrangements.

You should give:

  • 3 months' notice for smaller events
  • 6 months' notice for larger events

You will need to submit an Event Notification form, or a detailed Event Safety Plan for larger, higher risk events.

Tell us about an event you are organising / enquire about using Council land for an event

Counter terrorism

If your event is likely to attract large numbers of people, you need to consider special measures to address the potential threat posed by terrorists.

These may include:

  • bag searches
  • vehicle security barriers to help protect against attacks

See the current UK Threat Level: Threat Levels | MI5 - The Security Service.

Guidance and training

There are lots of resources available to raise awareness and provide training for staff:   

  • Purple Guide - Counter Terrorism
    Guidance on threat levels and methods of attack. See Purple Guide: Counter Terrorism
  • National Counter Terrorism Security Office - crowded places guidance
    Guidance documents and checklists to help those in charge of security at crowded places. See GOV.UK: Crowded places guidance.
  • Action Counters Terrorism (ACT) e-learning
    Provides nationally recognised corporate counter terrorism guidance to help people understand current terrorist practises. Access the e-learning at Counter Terrorism Training Suite.
  • Action Counters Terrorism (ACT) app
    Provides users with the latest information and expert advice and guidance from Counter Terrorism Policing. To access the app, download the URIM app from the Google or Apple app store. Email to request a username and password for your organisation.
  • National Counter Terrorism Security Office
    Information and advice about counter terrorism. See GOV.UK: National Counter Terrorism Security Office.

Licenses (alcohol, music, temporary event notices)

You are responsible for making sure your event complies with licensing laws.

If an event is not compliant, organisers and anyone taking part who is responsible for the offence, can be prosecuted.

You must contact the Licensing Team on 0191 424 7695 at least two months before your proposed event, to find out if you need a licence and if so, apply for one.

What you need a licence for

You need a licence for:

  • selling alcohol
  • serving alcohol to members of a private club
  • providing entertainment, such as music, dancing or indoor sporting events
  • serving hot food or drink between 11pm and 5am

Council land that is already licensed

South Tyneside Council currently licenses some parks and open spaces for entertainment purposes.

Contact the Events team at an early stage of your planning to find out if the venue you are considering is already licensed:

If the venue is not licensed, you may need to apply for a Temporary Event Notice.

Land or premises that is not licensed - Temporary Event Notices (TENs)

You can apply for a Temporary Event Notice (TEN) if you want to carry out one of the above activities on an unlicensed premises.

You must submit your application at least 10 days before the event.

In certain circumstances, a late TEN may be considered.

Please contact the Licensing Team for advice on 0191 424 7695.

For more information see temporary events notice or alcohol, entertainment, food licences.

Music licensing

Original musical works and sound recordings are protected by copywright laws.

This gives those who create original music and make the sound recordings legal protection against unauthorised public performance, copying or broadcasting.

Public performance is virtually any performance outside the home.

If you are hiring the facility, it is your responsibility to get a license.

Certain charitable type events may be exempt.

It is strongly advised you contact the licensing agencies for guidance.

If you breach the copyright laws, you could get:

  • up to two years in prison, or
  • a fine up to £5,000

To find out more about music licensing for your event, see PPL and PRS for Music.


You need insurance to hold an event. The event organiser must have: 

  • Third Party Public Liability Insurance with a minimum indemnity limit of 5 million pounds
  • Employers Liability Insurance with a minimum indemnity of 10 million pounds (this is still needed even if your event is being delivered by volunteers)

For events on Council land, the Council must get copies of these policies, no less than 28 days before the event.

If your organisation belongs to a larger governing body, then you may be able to get preferential cover through them.

If any sub-contractors or food concessions will be on site, you should also get copies of their Third-Party Public Liability Insurance and Employers Liability Insurance.


For all events, there must be plenty of space for the public to move around the site and to have clear exit routes.

You should:

  • prepare a final sketch plan of the site, preferably to scale, showing the position of all the activities / attractions, circulation routes and exits. This should be to a scale of 1:100 or 1:200. This drawing should be updated if your plans change, and copies of the final version should be held with the safety officer at the event.
  • have enough exits for a mass orderly evacuation on site.
  • have the entrance and exit routes identified for emergency vehicles - these should be agreed with the emergency services bearing in mind the size and weight of their appliances.
  • make sure that vehicle and pedestrian queues do not obstruct movement on nearby roads
  • make sure that you have enough capacity within your site.
  • arrange separate vehicle and pedestrian entrances and exits to the site to avoid conflict or stop vehicle access while the public is entering or leaving. Make sure that the road or footway that they are entering is wide enough to accommodate them safely.
  • make sure that vehicle and pedestrian entrances are well stewarded.
  • allocate car parking areas to eliminate hazards to pedestrians (like reversing vehicles).
  • if there are car parking areas on your event site, consider locating stewards in these areas.
  • vehicle movement in public areas during your event should be forbidden, except in emergency situations. If vehicles need to move this should be done under the close supervision of stewards.


The safety of people attending your event will depend on the competency of your stewards.

All stewards should: 

  • be aged over 18
  • be fit to carry out the duties given to them
  • be helpful, conscientious and disciplined people
  • be alert to what is happening around them
  • monitor the crowd at all times (not watch the event)
  • be easily recognisable by wearing high visibility vests or tabards

Your Risk Assessment will help you determine how many stewards are needed and where they should be located.

This should consider:

  • the audience's age
  • projected size of audience
  • time of event
  • size of site

You should make sure that all stewards: 

  • get a written statement of their duties
  • get a site plan showing key features
  • are fully aware of their role in an emergency situation 

Depending on the size of the site, and where your event is taking place, stewards may need a separate system of communication (two-way radios).

To make sure stewards are properly organised, there should be a chief steward/marshal.

This would preferably be someone who is a member of the event organising committee.

Lost and found children

Arrangements for children should be made even if the event is not specifically aimed at them, as they may come with family members.

To plan for lost and found children:

  • Arrange for the safe care of children who are separated from their parents or guardians. This may include a designated Lost Children Point.
  • Anyone who is responsible for looking after lost children should have Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Services (DBS), formerly known as the Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) clearance. This should be documented and included in your event plans.
  • Make sure that marshals and stewards are properly briefed about the arrangements which have been put in place.

If a child is reported missing

If a child is reported missing to a steward, the steward should immediately contact the Lost Children Point to find out if the child is already there.

  • If the child is at the Lost Children Point, the steward should direct the person(s) to that location. If there is any uncertainty, it is the responsibility of the event officer to determine if the child should be allowed to go with the person who is 'claiming' them.
  • If the child is not at the Lost Children Point, following an initial search of the immediate area, the person should be directed to that area. They may need to be escorted to the Lost Children Point if they are highly stressed or upset.
  • At the Lost Children Point, the person should complete the 'Missing Child' formwith details of the child's name, age, description etc.
  • Once the form has been completed, details of the child should be passed to staff/stewards, usually by mobile phone or landline. In some cases, a 'runner' could be employed to do this. At no time should one person be left on their own in charge of any lost child.
  • A message should be passed to stewards as soon as possible, so employees are made aware and can remain vigilant. If a very young child (6 years and under) or particularly vulnerable child is missing, this message should be broadcast as a matter of urgency.
  • In the interests of safety of the child, no details of any missing children should be broadcast over the public address system without approval from the event officer in charge of the event.
  • The 'Missing Child' form should be kept on file, with details of when they have been reunited.
  • Any steward who finds the child should immediately contact the Lost Children Point, to advise that they are bringing the child in. All children found in this way must be escorted to the Lost Children Point to avoid them becoming 'lost' again. This escort is a priority and should be done immediately - stewards must not keep the child any longer than is needed.
  • Once details of the child have been taken, the person(s) reporting the missing child should be asked to stay at the Lost Children Point instead of going out to search for the child. This is because it is unlikely that there will be any way to contact them once they leave the Lost Children Point, and it is possible that the child could be brought in by a steward or report there themselves. Staff can't make any adult stay at the Lost Children Point if they don't want to. In this case, the person(s) reporting the missing child should be asked to sign a disclaimer form stating that they left the area of their own accord.
  • If the child is not found in the initial search, the event organiser should liaise with the Police about the next steps.

Missing child report form example

This form would be completed by Lost Children Personnel when a child is reported lost.

Information could include: 

  • Name of child
  • Address and postcode of child
  • Telephone number for parent / carer
  • Age of child
  • Sex of child 
  • Description of child 
  • Which area was the child lost in 
  • Time reported missing 
  • Reported by (name and relationship to child)
  • Time reunited
  • Found by (name and position)

Staff should advise parents/carers that once a child has been reported missing, they should stay at the Lost Children Point until the child is found. If they don't want to stay, they should sign to confirm that they left the area of their own accord.

To view this example form as a PDF, or to print the form, see:  missing child report form (example) (PDF) [88KB]

Found child report form example

This form would be completed by Lost Children Personnel when a child reports they have lost their parent / guardian.

Information could include: 

  • Name of child
  • Address and postcode of child
  • Telephone number for parent / carer
  • Age of child
  • Sex of child 
  • Description of child 
  • Where was the child found 
  • Time found 
  • Found by (name and position) 
  • Collected by (name and relationship to child)
  • Time collected 
  • Was identification shown 

To view this example form as a PDF, or to print the form, see:  found child report form (example) (PDF) [11KB]

Communication with staff

You will need to plan how you communicate with key staff during your event.

For activities with low spectator numbers, mobile phones will probably be enough.

For larger events, two-way radios will be needed.

Event organisers must be able to communicate effectively with key individuals within the management structure.

Site stewards must be able to report developments and issues back to a Steward Supervisor or Event Co-ordinator.

The scale of some events may mean that a dedicated communications centre is needed.

The Event Co-ordinator should draft a list of key contact names / telephone numbers / email addresses for those involved with the event, as well as external organisations such as the Council, emergency services etc.

They should give these to all the senior staff who will be on duty at the event.

Waste management

Your event is likely to produce waste.

Anyone who produces, carries, treats or disposes of waste is responsible for waste management (Section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990).

The waste from your event needs managing responsibly and legally.

It is an offence to keep, treat, or dispose of waste in a way which is likely to lead to pollution of the environment.

You will need to consider:

  • Arranging litter containers (you can get these from the Council)
  • Type of litter containers
  • Emptying litter containers during the event
  • Litter picking during the event
  • Collection of waste at the end of the event by a registered waste carrier or exempt organisation such as the Council

Not managing your event's waste breaks the law, and threatens the safety of those attending the event.

A build-up of waste can cause:

  • Injury to staff and spectators
  • Blocking of exit routes
  • Tripping hazards
  • Fire hazard
  • Misuse of waste, i.e. throwing of bottles and cans by the audience

Contact us to discuss waste management

To discuss waste management at your event, please contact the Handy Estates team on 0191 427 2057.

There will be a charge for removing waste from the event site.

Toilets and hand washing facilities

It is essential that there are enough toilets and hand washing facilities for the numbers of people expected at your event.

When planning the provision of facilities, you will need to consider:

  • How long the event will last
  • Expected audience food and fluid consumption
  • Numbers of children, elderly people, and people with special needs
  • Weather conditions and temperature
  • Facilities for employees and event workers

Guidelines for calculating the numbers of facilities needed are shown below (these are provided by the Health and Safety Executive).

These are guidelines only - the numbers may be too high for short events, or too low for events where fluid consumption is expected to be high, or for events where there will be camping.

For events with a gate opening time of six hours or more:

  • one toilet per 100 females
  • one toilet per 500 males, plus one urinal per 150 males

For events with a gate opening time of less than six hours:

  • one toilet per 120 females
  • one toilet per 600 males, plus one urinal per 175 males

It is recommended that one toilet with hand washing facilities is provided per 75 people with special needs.

You should:

  • Where possible, provide one hand washing facility per five toilets, with no less than one per 10 toilets
  • Supply suitable, clearly identifiable, designated containers for sanitary towels or nappies, if there is any possibility that they may block facilities
  • Make sure that facilities are regularly serviced throughout the event so that they are safe, clean and hygienic for public use
  • Make sure that Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1999 (COSHH) assessments are available to cover all cleaning and deodorising products used

Drinking water

You may need to supply free drinking water for certain events, especially large concerts.

Water should be supplied from the mains where possible.

Water bowsers are acceptable, as long as they are suitable for the purpose.

It is good practice to sample and test temporary water supplies in the interests of bacteriological safety.

Fire safety

You should carry out a fire risk assessment for your event.

For guidance on fire risk assessments for open air events and venues, see GOV.UK: Fire safety risk assessment: open-air events and venues.

Special consideration needs to be given to these risk areas:

  • Electrical equipment
  • Tents and marquees
  • Portable generators
  • Mobile concessions
  • Vehicles

You should:

  • Plan how to escape safely if there is an emergency
  • Make sure that there are enough exits for the expected number of visitors
  • Provide a suitable and sufficient level of fire-fighting equipment 

Firework displays

Due to the specific risks involved in staging firework displays, it is always preferable for them to be planned and staged by a specialist firework company.

Large scale displays using Category 4, major display type fireworks, must be fired by professional operators only.

Guidance on organising displays is available at Health and Safety Executive (HSE): Organising firework displays.

For events on Council owned land

For events on land owned or controlled by the Council, you will need to advertise your firework display locally, at least two weeks before the event.

This is so arrangements can be made for the welfare of vulnerable people, and any pets or other animals who may be close to the event site.

For events on private land

For displays held on private land, you are encouraged to follow the same protocol.

Looking after animals

Guidance on looking after animals during firework displays can be found at animal welfare during firework displays.

Risk assessment and safety plans

The risk assessment / safety plan should be specific around how the risks of your firework display have been assessed.

It should include a plan of the site, usually showing firing zones, drop zones, spectator zones and stewarding arrangements to make sure the crowd will be safe.

First aid

Any event must have qualified first aid personnel in attendance.

The recommended minimum number of first aiders for small events, where no specific risks are present, is two per 1000 people for the first 3000 people.

No event should have less than two first aiders.

The level of first aid cover will depend on things like:

  • Size of audience
  • Type of event
  • Type of audience, e.g. age range
  • Duration of the event
  • Size and type of site

First aiders should be:

  • Between 16 and 65 years old (first aiders under the age of 18 should not work unsupervised)
  • Have no other duties or responsibilities
  • Have identification
  • Have protective clothing
  • Have relevant experience or knowledge
  • Be physically and psychologically equipped to carry out their role
  • Hold a current certificate of first aid competency from St Johns Ambulance, British Red Cross or St Andrews Ambulance Association

Larger events

Larger events will need an ambulance on site.

If you plan to use an independent ambulance provider, we strongly suggest that you make sure the provider has been satisfactorily inspected. See Care Quality Commission

First aid arrangements for large events should be discussed in detail with South Tyneside Safety Advisory Group and the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS).

For information about the role of the NEAS and the level of medical cover needed, visit North East Ambulance Service: Pre-event guidance.

Keep an event log 

You should keep an event log, which should include:

  • any actions or decisions taken by the person responsible for the medical arrangements
  • the reasons for those actions

These forms may be needed later to help with the reporting of accidents and injuries to workers and/or audience members under the RIDDOR 1995 Regulations. 

Accident report form example

An accident report form should be completed by the event organiser or their representative, not by the person suffering the loss or injury. 

The form may include: 

  • Event name and date
  • Details of injured person:
    • Name
    • Address 
    • Telephone number
    • Date of birth 
    • Whether they are: a member of public / employee / volunteer / exhibitor / contractor
  • Details of the accident:
    • Date and time reported
    • Person it was reported to 
    • Whether the details have been added to the accident book 
    • Details of injury (specify left or right side) and / or loss or damage
  • Details of action:
    • Action taken
    • Name of event representative who provided any assistance
    • Name of person who gave first aid 
    • Whether the ambulance was called
    • Whether the person was taken to hospital (if so, name and address of hospital)
    • Whether the person was taken home
  • Circumstances and location of the accident
  • Names and addresses of witnesses
  • Details of person completing form:
    • Name
    • Address 
    • Telephone number
    • Signature

To view this example form as a PDF, or to print the form, see:  Accident report form (example) (PDF) [247KB]

Emergency services

You must consult with the emergency services before all large events.

It is your responsibility to tell the police, fire and ambulance services.

In most cases they will not need to be involved, but they must always be consulted.

You can contact them on these telephone numbers:

Northumbria Police
Millbank, Station Road, South Shields
101 (request Events Centre)

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue
John Reid Road, South Shields
0191 444 1827

North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust
Bernicia House, Goldcrest Way, Newburn Riverside, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE15 8NY
0191 430 2000

People with special needs

It is important to accommodate people with special needs when planning your event.

You should consider:

  • Access
  • Viewing areas
  • Toilets and hand washing facilities
  • Evacuation

Bouncy castles and inflatables

Inflatables and bouncy castles can be extremely dangerous if used incorrectly.

All inflatables must be operated in accordance with BS EN 14960. This includes:

  • registration requirements
  • testing
  • installation
  • supervision of inflatable play equipment

The operator of the inflatable needs Public Liability Insurance cover to a level of five million pounds.

The inflatable needs an up-to-date MOT (an annual test for all inflatables).

Before any inflatable is brought onto Council land:

  • Copies of safety and insurance documentation are needed 
  • The supplier will need to confirm that they have done a site survey with a Cable Avoidance Tool, to confirm there are no cables where anchor pins will be located

Fun fair rides

If your event involves fun fair rides or inflatables, you should tell the Council at least three months before the event, as specific documentation is needed.

This documentation includes:

  • Proof of Third-Party Public Liability Insurance Cover to a minimum value of 5 million pounds
  • Independent Safety Certificate for a Passenger Carrying Amusement Device
  • Risk Assessment and method of operation
  • Institute of Electrical Engineers Inspection certificate

The Council must get this documentation no later than 28 days before the event.

Constructions (for example stages, marquees)

As part of your event planning, you need to consider the Construction Design and Management (CDM) Regulations 2015.

We also need to make sure that you have considered this when we review your event plan.

In your event safety plan, you need to:

  • acknowledge that your event has construction activities included in it 
  • identify who your duty holders are
  • include a copy of your construction phase plan as an appendix

Construction activities

For events, a construction activity is likely to include:

  • construction of a stage and stage canopy
  • a grandstand
  • a tower / lighting tower
  • the construction management and dismantling of tents and marquees
  • construction of security fencing and barge barriers
  • electrical installation

A construction activity is defined in the CDM Regulations 2015 as:

  • 'The installation, commissioning, maintenance, repair or removal of mechanical, electrical, gas, compressed air, hydraulic, telecommunications, computer or similar services which are normally fixed within or to a structure', and
  • 'The assembly on site of prefabricated elements to form a structure or the disassembly on site of the prefabricated elements which, immediately before such disassembly, formed a structure'

Not all of an event is defined as a construction activity.

Duty holders

The CDM Regulations 2015 place legal duties on:

  • a person who designs, arranges, and manages the construction activities within an event
  • client
  • designer
  • principle designer (only needed where it is expected that there will be more than one contractor working on site)
  • principle contractor (only needed where it is expected that there will be more than one contractor working on site)
  • contractor

For full details about the roles and duties, go to Health and Safety Executive: CDM roles and duties.

Notification of construction projects

Notifiable projects are construction projects/activities:

  • which last longer than 30 working days
  • have more than 20 workers working at the same time at any point in the project, or
  • go over 500 person days of work

The event is reported to the Health and Safety Executive in the form of an F10 form.

Construction phase plan

The regulations also require that the 'defined' duty holders are appointed in writing and their specific duties identified in a Construction Phase Plan.

The contents of a construction plan should be proportionate with the size and complexity of the construction activities.

To help event organisers to include complete and correct information in a construction phase plan, the HSE has developed a Construction Phase Plan template to help you develop your own.

See Health and Safety Executive: Construction phase plan template.

Marquees and other temporary structures

If your event involves the use of a marquee or other temporary structure for example, a staging unit, you should get a plan and technical specification of the structure and provide a copy to the Council.

It is recommended that you use professional contractors for the set-up and de-rig of any temporary structures.

All temporary structures:

  • are subject to a fire risk assessment by law
  • must also be tested to make sure they are securely anchored and safe for use

Marquees and temporary structures fall within the Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015. 

Electrical appliances

You should make sure that all electrical appliances are in good working order.

Any cabling work, other than simply using extension leads, will need to be carried out by an experienced electrician, who will give you a certificate to say that the installation is safe and complies with the legal standards.

Electrical cables can be a trip hazard so keep them away from the public.

Make sure that the electrical system has an electrical 'trip' such as a residual current device (RCD) that will switch off the supply if there is a fault. These devices save lives.

Any portable electrical equipment used on the event site must be tested - commonly referred to as a P.A.T test. This test should be carried out by a skilled person.


You should use mains electricity supplies if possible.

If you must use a generator:

  • Diesel models are safer than petrol
  • Keep the generator guarded with a barrier
  • Store fuel away from structures and combustible materials
  • Remember they can be noisy so keep them away from neighbouring properties or provide effective sound insulation
  • All temporary electrical systems must comply with British Standards - BS 7909, BS 7430 and BS 7671


Lotteries (raffles, etc)

Lotteries and games of chance (raffles, tombola, blind cards, domino cards etc) cannot be run for private or personal gain, but they can be held for charitable or other non-commercial activities.

Holding a lottery without being registered 

If you answer yes to all the below statements, you can hold the lottery without being registered:

  • Tickets or chances will only be sold at, and to people attending the event
  • All of the proceeds (profit if any) from the event, after deducting expenses will be devoted to purposes other than private gain
  • All the prizes will be non-money prizes
  • The lottery will be drawn at the event

If your answer to any of these statements is no, you might need to be registered to hold lotteries.

Please get further advice from South Tyneside Council, Licensing Section on 0191 424 7695.

Public address systems

Most recreation grounds are in or next to residential areas.

If you plan to use a public address system, disruption and annoyance to residents must be minimised:

  • When planning the event layout, identify residential areas and position the speakers in the opposite direction
  • Restrict the duration and frequency of use
  • Regularly check the noise levels at the perimeter of the site

South Tyneside Council does not allow outdoor events to take place after 9pm.

Noise control is covered by the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

If you need further advice, contact South Tyneside Council Pollution Control team on 0191 424 7836.

For further advice, see Code of Practice on Environmental Noise Control at Concerts.

Road closures and traffic regulations

When special events require the road to be closed off to general traffic, a temporary road closure will be needed.

The Council can organise the necessary Traffic Regulation Order, however all costs involved for the closure and diversion signing would be paid by the event organiser.

If you need a road closure, contact Traffic Services on 0191 427 7000.

Because of the legal procedure and timescales involved, which must be followed, please make the initial contact as soon as possible.


Demonstrations cannot be dealt with by the Council.

For these events, contact Northumbria Police so that they can make the appropriate arrangements.

Events on live roads

The police have no general duty to preserve public safety at any public event, except where there are imminent or likely threats to life.

If you decide to go ahead with your arrangements, you must appreciate that if an incident happens because of your event, involving death or injury, the police will be allowed to assess any enquiry of the advice given.

Full risk and responsibility must be with the event organisers.

Under regulations, the responsibility for traffic management for events on or affecting the road is with the Council.

It is the Council's responsibility to:

  • Request a traffic management plan from the organisers
  • Issue any traffic regulation orders
  • Work with partner agencies
  • Create and test plans
  • Communicate with the event organiser about any related costs

Northumbria Police will work in partnership with other agencies and offer guidance and knowledge in their specific field of expertise.

If you decide against road closures for your event as the event organiser you should make sure:

  • everyone involved in the event must observe compulsory traffic signs and have no right of way over other traffic using the road
  • all staff connected with the event will be informed by the organiser(s) that they can't slow down, stop or interfere with other road users
  • a risk assessment is in place to support the event
  • any major changes to routes already notified to the police should be subject of separate applications
  • y that any vehicles involved in the event are roadworthy

Publicity and promotions

Fly posting is illegal and offenders will be prosecuted.

You must get approval from the landowner, preferably in writing, before you display any advertising material.

The size of any advertisement must not go above the requirements of the planning legislation.


Catering at events is a high-risk activity, with the possibility of causing food poisoning to many people, if food is stored, handled, prepared and served large amounts and over a longer period of time..

The main causes of food hygiene issues include:

  • Preparing large quantities of food too far in advance
  • Incorrect food storage (for example, not refrigerated)
  • Poor personal hygiene for food handlers
  • Not cooking / reheating food for the correct length of time and at the right temperature
  • Cross-contamination from raw food, to high-risk ready to eat food
  • Use of inappropriate food contact surfaces which cannot be cleaned

This advice aims to help those planning to provide catering at events in their implementation and compliance with good food hygiene practices, health and safety matters and legal obligations before, during and after the event.

This will help to protect the health and safety of everyone attending and involved at the event.

For more advice and information contact the Environmental Health Team, by emailing

Steps when arranging catering 

1. Planning for the event

The potential for problems linked with outdoor event catering is significant. Make sure that you read the following information when planning catering for your event:

  • If a food poisoning outbreak happens because of on-site catering operations, both the person / organisation booking the caterer and the event caterer will be responsible. It is essential that you understand your responsibilities.
  • You must make sure that you have access to hot and cold drinkable water for hand washing and cleaning, appropriate and suitable food storage for the food that you are serving (for example, refrigeration / hot holding.)
  • At the end of this section is a food safety questionnaire, created for event organisers by the Council to help when tendering for caterers. If you are using your own caterer, then they should complete and return the form to you. This form includes essential information from which a decision can be made on the suitability of a particular caterer.
  • If you are booking a caterer for an event, you are entitled to ask the caterer for a recent inspection letter from their local Council, to show the levels of standards achieved during the last inspection for food hygiene and safety, structure and for confidence in management / control systems.
  • Event caterers must provide the Food and Occupational Safety team with a copy of a completed food safety questionnaire for each caterer, with additional supporting evidence (Appendix 1) and a completed event summary questionnaire (Appendix 2). This should be submitted one month before the event.

2. Environmental Health Officer (EHO) visits

During the event, authorised officers from South Tyneside Council's Environmental Health Team will visit the site to check for compliance of all catering operations with relevant food safety and health and safety legislation.

3. Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP)

Caterers must document their arrangements for making sure that food provided to the public is safe for consumption.

Where users prepare and bring food to the event to give to runners, they are effectively acting as caterers and must comply with all legislation.

  • A hazard analysis must be undertaken to identify all potential food safety hazards in the catering operation to think about and then decide on the points at which things could go wrong.
  • Controls need to be brought in at those points which are critical to making sure food is safe such as during the stages of food transportation/delivery, storage, preparation, cooking, and the arrangements for chilling and/or hot-holding of food whilst on display for service.
  • Documentation must be provided to show how these controls will be managed.

4. Food hygiene training

Anyone catering for the public at an event must make sure staff handling and preparing food are suitably trained.

  • Staff should be instructed and have an appreciation of the importance of any control or monitoring points identified in the food safety management system are responsible for. They should appreciate the essentials of food hygiene, for example: personal hygiene, fitness to work, temperature control, cross contamination and cleaning procedures.

If you have any questions, please contact the Environmental Health team.

5. General requirements

When making these arrangements, caterers will need to make sure the following facilities are available and procedures are in place to comply with food hygiene regulations:

  • A portable water supply must be provided. This  could be in the form of suitably clean pump action water flasks to provide hand washing facilities, plus antibacterial soap and paper towels.
  • Hot or cold boxes may be needed for any foods that need to be kept at a certain temperature. These must be suitable for the task and be capable of maintaining temperatures for the amount of time needed. Stored cold food must be kept below 8ºC and hot food must be kept above 63ºC.
  • Soup warmers are not an acceptable method of heating up soup/ sauces to a safe temperature and should not be used.
  • Food prep surfaces may be needed (trestle tables are not generally considered suitable for food preparation) that can be cleaned down with suitable materials as needed before, during and after food preparation.
  • Any wiping cloths should be changed frequently. It is recommended to use disposable cloths.
  • Users providing their own catering are advised to regularly monitor and record the temperatures of cold food storage units, hot holding units and the core temperatures of cooked food. Digital probe model thermometers can be used for this purpose. Probe wipes should be used to sanitise probe thermometers before and after use to prevent cross-contamination.

Ideally all areas where food prep takes place should be on level ground.

High-risk foods are foods upon which bacteria can easily grow, and which may be eaten without further cooking. They are usually moist and high in protein. 

Ready-to-eat foods are high risk because if they are contaminated or allowed to deteriorate, there are no further preparation steps to control the hazard. Examples include:

  • cooked meat and poultry
  • pates
  • meat pies
  • cooked meat products
  • shellfish and other seafood (cooked or intended to be eaten raw)
  • dairy products
  • cooked rice
  • cooked eggs
  • products made with egg

It excludes bread, pastry and similar baked goods, prepared salads, fruit and vegetables.

6. Waste disposal

Plastic refuse sacks may be used and should be properly tied or sealed. Cardboard boxes and open containers are not suitable for the disposal of waste.

Any waste should be disposed of correctly.

7. First aid and accident reporting

Where open food is prepared, a first aid kit complete with waterproof dressings and bandages must be provided.

A suitable accident book should be provided by any charity providing their own catering operation.

This is to record any injury resulting from an incident or accident affecting catering staff.

Food safety questionnaire for event caterers

This form must be completed for each private catering operation (ie one that does not involve the official on site caterer - Hutchison Catering Services).

Please send the completed form to the Environmental Health team, so that they are aware of the proposed activities on site:

View the  Food safety questionnaire for event caterers (Word doc) [79KB]

Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG)

Many mobile catering units will use Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG).

If you are bringing these types of units onto your event site, you should be aware:

  • LPG cylinders should be located in a well-ventilated position on firm, level ground at least 1 metre from buildings or boundaries, 2 metres from any building openings, drains or gullies, and 3 metres from other combustible, corrosive or oxidising materials (including other catering units)
  • The cylinders should be secured to prevent tampering and positioned where they cannot easily be damaged
  • The cylinders are stored with the valve upright
  • All flexible tubing is kept to a minimum

If LPG is stored within a unit

If LPG is stored within a unit, it should be put in a compartment completely separated from the rest of the unit:

  • The storage compartment for the LPG must be constructed of materials having at least a half hour fire resistance
  • Sealed to prevent gas gaining access into the unit
  • Of sufficient size to store all LPG cylinders including spares and constructed so that access can only be obtained from outside the unit
  • Provided with ventilation openings at both high and low levels
  • Secured to prevent tampering
  • Be provided with a suitable means of securing the cylinders in an upright position

Appliances using LPG

All appliances using LPG should be:

  • Serviced and tested every twelve months by a registered LPG engineer
  • The LPG cylinder is inspected before, during and after filling and record of the inspection made against the cylinder registration number
  • Warning notices are displayed indicating the presence of LPG
  • All pipework should be supported every metre
  • The unit has appropriate fire extinguishers and fire blankets
  • Catering staff are familiar with emergency procedures and safe use of LPG
  • The food business operator has carried out a fire risk assessment
  • All fryers should be fitted with an automatic high temperature-limiting device (operates at a fat temperature of 250°C or lower)

Weather and ground conditions

The weather will play a major role in the success of your event.

Even though most outdoor events take place in summer, high winds and rain are still possible.

You should monitor weather forecasts leading up to your event and be prepared to make changes to your plans to reflect weather conditions on the day of your event.

If wind and rain are forecast: 

  • The ground could become slippery or inaccessible.
  • Temporary structures may need additional anchorage or be removed altogether.
  • In wet conditions, vehicles may leave the event site and spread mud and debris onto the road. This can be extremely hazardous to motorists, and you should have plans in place to deal with this. You will be charged for costs relating to any cleaning of the roads if South Tyneside Council staff are called to remove debris.

Ground conditions can vary a lot from day-to-day and site-to-site.

You should be aware of any steep slopes or undulations in the ground as well as wet or slippery surfaces.

You may need to divert the public away from certain areas if ground conditions become hazardous.

Extreme weather conditions

Think about what you will do if there are extreme weather conditions on the day of your event:

  • Will you cancel the event?
  • Can you move it to another indoor venue?
  • Are there any other facilities you will need to bring in at short notice to cope with the weather?
  • If the weather or other problems stops the main attraction from turning up, how will you deal with the disappointed crowds?

South Tyneside Council reserves the right to cancel events because of unsuitable weather or ground conditions.

If the weather has been particularly bad in the week(s) leading up to your event, we will arrange to meet you on-site to discuss this.

We will work with you to create a Wet Weather Contingency Plan if your event is at risk.