A Guide to Organising Outdoor Events


Sandwell has a packed, year-round calendar of events happening across the borough. Our events highlight what a great place Sandwell is, and they celebrate its unique parks and busy towns.  An event is a planned occasion taking place outside of normal activity which involves at least 200 people and temporary structures. It is not enhanced activity to usual practice (e.g. Christmas at the Library).
This guide gives a little bit of information from the Discover Sandwell team and will let you know about useful things you should bear in mind. Take a look through the following pages to make sure you cover everything in your planning!

Booking and SAG Processes

The most important thing when organising an outdoor event is to plan early. You should be thinking about your event at least 6 months before it is due to take place. Think about what you want to achieve and inform the Discover Sandwell team well in advance.
Book your event in with us by completing the booking form and emailing it to event_enquiries@sandwell.gov.uk. You may not be able to complete all sections but fill in as much as you can and we’ll come back to you about the rest. You should also send us your Public Liability Insurance, Risk Assessment and Fire Risk Assessment. By submitting your form, you are agreeing to the terms and conditions for events in Sandwell. Please read these carefully to understand your responsibilities on the site.
As you go along, put together an Event Management Plan (EMP) which collates all of the information for the event in one place. This will aid your planning and will help the Safety Advisory Group (SAG) understand the event. We understand that not everything is confirmed when you submit to us but showing us your drafts at an early stage will help us consider your event fully. Keep us informed as things do get confirmed.
You may be invited to a SAG meeting where the group can find out more about your plans and give you advice and support. All information you provide will be shared with the SAG to feed back to you. Find out more about the SAG here.
We charge a fee for the hire of the site. Costs can be found here. You will be sent an invoice for the amount due once your booking is confirmed.
The Purple Guide has been written by Events Organisers and is the national guidance to health, safety and welfare at music and other events. It is a really useful document and will give you much more advice than we are able to provide here.

Roles and Responsibilities

If you are organising an event, you have a duty of care to your staff, attendees and members of the public. We recommend you consider who will take on the following positions and note them in your EMP. (Depending on size, some individuals may hold more than one role).
  • Event Manager (person who knows the event best, takes final responsibility and will take charge in an emergency situation)
  • Site Manager (person who positions activities as they arrive on site and ensures the build and break are safe)
  • Operations Manager (person who looks after the running of the event including security, stewarding, medical, catering and bars)
  • Production Manager (person who liaises with artists, sound, lights, stage, screens, special effects etc.

Venue and Site Layout

Decide the suitability of the venue and whether it can accommodate safely the event you are planning. Your site plan should include:
  • Infrastructure (stage, marquees, toilets etc.)
  • Power/water sources
  • Emergency routes for evacuation and blue lights vehicles
  • Event Control, medical and lost child points
  • Ground works/pipes. Check www.linesearchbeforeudig.co.uk
If you (or a provider) is considering using drones within Sandwell as part of your event, this must be discussed in the first instance with our colleagues in Risk & Insurance. Information can be found here or in the Purple Guide.

COVID-19 mitigation

We understand that planning events safely and in line with the Government guidance has many additional complexities, therefore this document aims to highlight:

  • What we expect and require from you as an organiser;
  • Areas of your event that will require additional planning;
  • Examples of how these requirements may be applied to your event;
  • Risks to consider when deciding to hold an event during COVID-19.

Download our full Events Planning Guidance re. COVID-19 for event organisers here.

Health and Safety

You will need to complete a risk assessment for all activity taking place on the site. This should include:

Lost Children/Vulnerable Adults/Carers

Inevitably at large events, it is likely that a child or vulnerable adult will become separated from their carers. It is really important to act swiftly and calmly in this situation. There is some useful information here.

Medical Support

You should always consider what first aid cover you have at your event. The Purple Guide gives an algorithm to work out what you require. One medical provider has designed a convenient calculator for you to use. Try it here.

You are strongly advised to complete a comprehensive Medical Risk Assessment for your event. The level of medical provision your event requires will come from this assessment. You (or your medical provider) should also produce a Medical Plan detailing where, when and how you are going to mitigate those risks identified in your risk assessment and provide appropriate medical cover for your event. Further advice on completing the risk assessment and medical plan should be sought from publications such as The Purple Guide, HSE Guidance or professional Health & Safety/Medical advisors (www.thepurpleguide.co.uk) (https://www.hse.gov.uk/simple-health-safety/risk/index.htm) Failure to complete a Risk Assessment or Medical Plan may leave you open to prosecution and/or litigation should an incident occur.

The SAG (or the NHS Ambulance Service) cannot risk assess your event for you. You as the Event Organiser must do this, as it is you that are held legally responsible for your event. If you do not supply a Medical Risk Assessment and Medical Plan, then the SAG cannot assess your event fully and any advice given to you by the SAG may be incomplete.

The level of medical cover you supply should be sufficient to minimise the impact on the local NHS. This includes local A&E Departments, GP’s and the Ambulance Service. The aim should be to manage casualties on site as far as it is safe and appropriate to do so and to arrange off-site transfer within a satisfactory timeframe when it is not.

Transporting patients from an event to definitive care (hospital) is a regulated activity by law and as such, can only be provided by a company registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC). (www.cqc.org.uk). If your event requires an Ambulance to transport offsite, then this must be supplied by a company registered by the CQC.

If your event is being held under the authority of a governing body (UK Athletics, Motorsport, Equestrian etc) then please refer to that organisation for the level of medical cover that they stipulate. Failure to adhere to their requirements could invalidate your event insurance.

Medical cover should be provided for the entire duration of your event, from build up to breakdown. The level of this cover will be determined by your Medical Risk Assessment, taking into account guidance and legislation. If you are providing accommodation and/or camping for your event, then you have a duty of care to those staying and you should provide overnight medical cover.

It is now expected that most events (and ALL public events) should have immediate access to an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and trained personnel.

Medical providers can vary in quality and capability and event organisers should exercise due diligence in selecting a competent and reliable service. It is good practice to take up references from other customers who have used the provider for similar events and personal recommendation from peers within the event industry may also be useful. Check that they hold appropriate medical defence and public liability insurances and have rigorous clinical governance procedures in place.

Emergency Planning

You should develop emergency procedures and ensure that staff and volunteers know what to do should an emergency occur. This plan should cover several different headings and address many topics that relate to running an event.
  • Upon sighting an incident which requires an emergency response …
  • Summoning other agencies including emergency services
  • Informing staff and activating procedures
  • Dispersing crowds
  • Ongoing liaison with the emergency services and other authorities
  • Management of public information and media/press

Crowd Management

It is really important to understand your audience ahead of your event. Think about what sort of people you are expecting? What activities do they like to do? What behavioural issues may they bring? What sort of equipment is required to control their movement? How will they get to the event? Will they be drinking alcohol? Will they be sitting or standing? Have you got a celebrity attending who will influence crowd activity? Are there any places where crowd surges are likely to take place? Answers to these questions should influence your plans.

Traffic Management

Roads are not necessarily closed for the main event site but sometimes roads need to be closed for the safety of attendees as they arrive or leave. You will need to apply for a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order (TTRO). You should engage with a traffic management company who will be able to provide plans for you and then put it into place. You can find the document here.


Event staff should have a means of effective communication between each other e.g. short-wave radio or mobile phones (WhatsApp is a really useful tool!). Clear procedures for using communication equipment should be outlined in the EMP. You should keep a log of key communications for your debrief and in case any information is required following any incidents.
Staff briefings play an important part in sharing information and should be written as well as given verbally to staff.

Waste Management/Toilets

All waste must be taken away at the end of your event and the site left clean and tidy. For this you may engage with litter pickers for keeping the site clear and/or hire in bins or skips for the collection of rubbish.
Some of Sandwell’s sites do have toilet facilities available however there may not be enough or they may not be open during your event so you will need to bring your own on to the site. You can calculate how many toilets you will need on site using this table.
Female Toilets
Male Toilets
Less than 6 hours duration
1 per 100
1 per 500,
plus 1 urinal per 150
6 hours or more duration, with little or no alcohol or food served
1 per 85
1 per 425,
plus 1 urinal per 125
6 hours or more duration, with alcohol and food served in quantity
1 per 75
1 per 400,
plus 1 urinal per 100


Catering at events is important to keep your audience happy and energised. Think about the type of event you are holding, expected numbers and food that will be expected. When booking in caterers we recommend you ask for the following:
  • Public Liability Insurance
  • Documentary confirmation that the caterer is registered as a food business with a Local Authority
  • A food hygiene rating score of ‘4’ (Good) as a minimum
  • Food hygiene training certificates
  • A documented food safety management system
  • Allergen policies and procedures
  • Risk assessments
  • Information on what sort of power they will be bringing/require
  • Suitable and sufficient hand washing facilities

Insurance and Licences

All events taking place within Sandwell must be covered by a minimum of £5 million per claim Public Liability Insurance. For some dangerous activities, we may request higher cover. We recommend you also ask each of your providers to have the same amount of cover.
Some activities are licensable. This includes:
  • Sale of alcohol
  • Regulated entertainment
  • Street trading
  • Street collections
  • Car boot sales
You can find out information here or contact the council’s Licensing team on licensing_team@sandwell.gov.uk.

Contact Details and Advice

Corinne, Laura and Lorna are the Discover Sandwell team.
0121 569 3084
Discover Sandwell, Sandwell Council House, Freeth Street, Oldbury, B69 3DE
You can find template and example documents here. Where significant support is required from the Discover Sandwell team, you may be charged. Please ask for a quote.