New Hertfordshire Street Party Initiative Supported by Local Pub Group
Oakman Inns has a well-earned reputation for throwing and hosting memorable parties within their sixteen restaurants, bars and inns located across South-East England. Celebrations of all kinds are organised for thousands of customers every month – but now the independent pub group is working with local Hertfordshire GP, Rob Schafer, to encourage local people to organise their own celebrations and events – in the form of Street Parties.
On Sunday 11th June, London’s Mall will close for The Queen’s 90th Birthday official celebration party and for what is being called “The World’s Biggest Street Party”! As 10,000 guests tuck into lunch on the day, millions of Britons will have planned their own street parties, if last year’s Big Lunch with 12m participants is a measurement.
With the support of the multi-award winning pub group, Oakman Inns which owns four pubs in Hertfordshire, local GP Dr Rob Schafer has launched a new website www.ourstreetparty.org which aims to help people organise and run their own local street parties – and not just to celebrate the Queen’s birthday – but perhaps simply to allow neighbours to meet and children to play outside, free from traffic fears. In addition, Oakman are providing free facilities at their units for meetings of local street party organisers to kick start their community efforts.
According to Dr Rob, street parties are a fantastic way for neighbours and friends to kick-start the sense of local community: “It's also a great first step to getting kids playing outside again in the way that most of us took for granted thirty years ago. In fact, many streets which have held street parties have gone on to have regular temporary road closures for street play schemes. One such street was Longfield Road in Tring where their successful Jubilee street party in 2012 has resulted in not only an annual street party ever since, but also two-hour 'street play' sessions once a month.”
Perhaps inspired by the success and interest in the Longfield Road closure story, Tring Council has changed council policy this year for the Queen’s 90th and has decided not to have one main focus around a single giant street party, and is instead encouraging streets to organise their own parties.
The Mayor of Tring, Cllr Stephen Hearn, explained: "Tring continues to be a great community promoting a spirit of friendship and co-operation which benefits both the young and old in all spheres of life in our town. One such scheme is the play-out for children promoted by Dr Rob Schafer and the street parties to celebrate the Queen`s Birthday which all ages will be able to enjoy. Tring likes a good party so we can all pull together to make this day a bit special and a memorable day in the life of Tring!”
Vivianne Child from Tring Together added: “The Queen's 90th birthday celebrations provide a great excuse for a street party and applying for official permission is not at all onerous. Tring will be holding a party on Saturday 11th June, starting with the Tring Farmers Market Tea Party in the morning and ending with a BBQ and Beer in the churchyard at night. And then on Sunday 12th June we hope that lots of people will have a street party to get to know their neighbours and celebrate together."
Peter Borg-Neal, Oakman Inns’ CEO has lived and worked locally for much of his life and was keen to support the initiative. “Ourstreetparty.org is the result of a collaboration between Rob and Oakman Inns as we have always believed in working with our local communities. To support initiatives like this that help nurture developing youngsters is a no-brainer. We want the website and free information packs to inspire people to organise a street party and to provide useful guidance and help, making the application process clearer and simpler.”
Street party activators in Dacorum and St Albans District are on hand to share template application forms and sample flyers with neighbours as well as offer email support to answer any specific queries. The website even offers suggestions for alternate venues for a community party if your street is either not ready or is unsuitable for a street party and offers some 'easy and effortless things' that can help everyone to get to know their street right away.
www.OurStreetParty.org was launched with successful informal sessions for would-be street party organisers at The Akeman in Tring and Beech House in St Albans. The local contact for St Albans District, Nicola Wyeth said: "When you close a street to cars, you really see it come alive. We are delighted to work with Oakman Inns and run information sessions at The Beech House in St Albans for those wanting to organise a street party.
Helen Burridge, Community Engagement Manager for St Albans District Council, is supportive of the initiative: “I organised my own street party for the Royal Wedding before I started this role. I thoroughly enjoyed putting names to faces and sharing food and fun with these relative strangers who became friends. The road became a neighbourhood full of smiles and laughter after that day. I look forward to hearing similar stories throughout the district this summer, particularly now that the Council has been able to streamline the paperwork needed to make time for more party planning!”