To resolve the council’s position with regards organising and funding commemorative events and parades relating to the armed forces
Purpose of Report
To bring to the council’s attention the policy direction of the Royal British Legion and to seek a resolution on whether the committee will resolve that the council leads on, and budgets for, in particular, Armed Forces Day and Remembrance Sunday events in 2021.
Armed Forces Day falls in June each year and the website for the national event states that the day is a chance for the public “to show support for the men and women who make up the Armed Forces community, from currently serving troops to Service families, veterans and cadets”. A national event is held annually at a publicised location.
Armed Forces Day has previously been acknowledged by the town council through civic attendance at an event primarily organised by the local branch of the RBL.
The Armed Forces Day parade in Burnham does not have a long tradition in the same way as the Remembrance Sunday parade. Until James Heappey, MP, coordinated a parade in 2016, the occasion had been marked by a simple flag raising ceremony. To date, the council has not organised an Armed Forces Day parade, but has assisted the RBL Burnham branch.
It is worth noting that the Weston-Super-Mare Armed Forces Committee annual organises its impressive Air Festival for the Armed Forces Day weekend.
Remembrance day in November has previously been marked with a cadet/groups parade through Burnham and a ceremony at the Love Lane war memorial, both organised by the RBL with dignitaries invited to attend. The serving mayor or deputies also lay a wreath at the memorial in Highbridge.
The Remembrance Sunday parade is a long-standing and significant event in Burnham’s calendar and is very well attended by parade groups, veterans and residents.
The position of the RBL national body
The council has been notified by the chairman of the RBL, Burnham Branch, that the local branch is no longer permitted to organise parades for either occasion and has requested that the town council takes on the organisation of all such parades, along with the organisation of a ceremony for Armed Forces day. On last contact, the Burnham branch of the RBL had intended to continue to organise the Remembrance service itself, but this positon will require confirmation.
Having consulted the Policy document (appendix A), it is notable that it has been the National RBL’s expectation for some time that commemorative ceremonies are organised collaboratively between a local authority and RBL, but that parades are entirely organised by the local authority.
Parades requiring temporary road closures
The RBL policy direction was reissued this year due to non-compliance by local branches. The direction shows that the RBL national body recognises that “in our increasingly litigious society” there is a very high liability associated with parades on roads and the RBL does not consider them an essential part of an event. It states:
|“A serious road accident at a 2018 parade focused attention on how serious the consequences of a road traffic accident can be for the victims and those close to them. In this case, the accident left a supporter with life changing injuries. The accident also drew attention to the burden of cost such an accident can have, with claims for damages often running into the tens of millions of pounds. To be clear, a parade on the public highway is not an essential element of a successful Remembrance.”|
If a parade is to be organised for an event, the RBL requires that a civic authority (like a council) organises and staffs all risk assessments and road closures, and must not involve RBL staff in any aspect of the road closures or parade management.
Although both events fall on a weekend, if the council office is required to arrange either ceremony, it can undertake the bulk of the work during office hours.
If the office is required to organise a parade for either event, staff who agree to work on the weekend will be entitled to time off in lieu or paid overtime.
It will be necessary to seek suitable (non-RBL) volunteers to assist in the parade management. The council has a working relationship with the carnival club, who might be able to assist. When using volunteers, the event organiser (council) has a duty of care to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, that volunteers are not exposed to risks to their health and safety.
Although it might be that staff and volunteers will give their time for free on Remembrance Sunday, the council should not assume this will be the case, and certainly not for all such events.
The council’s insurers will consider the policy cost implications on an event by event basis. Any event that includes road closures is identified by the insurers as being outside the usual policy cover and the council’s insurer have quoted us an indicative fee of £150.
When organising any event, the guidance and approval of the Safety Advisory Group should be sought and its advice must be followed. Local cadet leaders and other parade groups should be consulted in any plans to organise and manage a parade.
If it is preferred that a parade is organised for either/both events, the committee should consider whether this can be achieved without road closures, for example, it might be held within a park or on the seafront. This would mitigate the significant risks associated with road traffic accidents.
£0 Road closure fee – if the event is classified as small, SDC will process the application without a fee. Any new principal authority might be prepared to charge no fee (subject to LGR). If the event is considered large, a fee of £462 applies (as for fireworks road closures)
Basic time or TOIL offered to employees required to work on a Saturday
Double time or TOIL offered to employees required to work on a Sunday
£300 Estimated donation per parade to suitably trained volunteer group (with ref to donation re: fireworks)
£150 insurance cost on annual premium
4394 301 Budget Code
Corporate Pillar 1: Engagement, Visibility and Transparency – 1.7 Having a strong town council presence at community events where appropriate
This town council has signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant, which is “a pledge that together we acknowledge and understand that those who serve or who have served in the armed forces, and their families, should be treated with fairness and respect in the communities, economy and society they serve with their lives”.
Although it is reasonable for the council to instruct the office to proceed with organising or assisting with the organisation of ceremonies for all such armed forces commemorations (2020 saw Armed Forces Day, VE Day, VJ Day and Remembrance Sunday*), it would be a more significant time and expense commitment to organise multiple parades.
If the committee is minded to decide the office should organise just one annual parade, then it is recommended that it proceeds with a parade on Remembrance Sunday.
*All 2020 events and parades were affected by the pandemic and associated movement restrictions. On Remembrance Sunday, the mayor paid respects and laid wreaths at both memorials in a Covid-safe act of remembrance.
Report author: Sam Winter, Town Clerk
Report Date: 9th November 2020