Organising a Public Event

Whether you are organising a craft fair, a sports event or a music festival, it is important to ensure your event is fun, safe and legal. Comhairle nan Eilean Siar can help you achieve this and make the process of organising an event easier.

From checking which licence you need, to whether you need a roads order, the guidance on this page will give you and your team a framework for planning your event in a structured way.

By inviting the public to your event, you have legal responsibilities to ensure that it does not cause danger or serious harm. With a little careful planning and by seeking advice, you can minimise these risks.

Every event is different and it is impossible to produce guidance that covers every answer to every question.  If you need more details then you will also find useful links here to information on specific topics such as food safety and crowd control.

Events which take place in buildings such as public halls, town halls or schools may be subject to separate procedures. Early planning of the event is key to ensuring its success.  Contact the Licensing section of the Comhairle on (01851) 822 619 to discuss your event and to find out whether you need to apply for a Public Entertainment Licence.


Many events require certain permissions that cannot be issued at short notice. Please ensure that that you have applied for any relevant permissions well before the deadlines detailed below. 

Minimum Timescales 
Permission Deadline
Alcohol Licence  21 days Licensing :01851 822 619
Public Entertainment Licences 28 days Licensing :01851 822 619
Public Procession Notice

28 days

Licensing :01851 822 619
Road Closure Order 6 weeks John  m Macleod 01851 822664
Events requiring/expecting enhanced Agency involvement 4 months Agency Involved
If you are unsure who to contact email with details of your event who will circulate to the Safety Advisory Group (SAG)
Letting of Comhairle Land within Stornoway Town Centre 7 days - 3 months depending on the 
type of booking 
(Please refer to the policy document attached below.)

Applications that are made after these deadlines are likely to be refused as the required checks may not be able to be carried out in time.

How We Can Help You Plan Your Event

As a first step, check if you need a Public Entertainment Licence for your event using our licence 'Checklist - Do I need a Public Entertainment Licence' provided below. Detailed advice is available in the 'Public Entertainment Licence Guidance Notes' provided below. You can download and complete the 'Application Form - Public Entertainment Licence' and send it to us along with the additional documentation. 

A Public Entertainment Licence is required for land or premises used as a place of public entertainment where members of the public are admitted, or may use any facilities for the purposes of entertainment or recreation, whether or not there is an entry charge.

If you do need a licence, let us know as soon as possible - we suggest contacting us at least 6 months before your event is due to take place. You should obtain written permission from the landowner/occupier before you proceed.

Please email a draft basic 'Event Safety Plan' (see Documents and Forms below) to as early as possible and this will be shared with Police Scotland and other agencies. This will save you from having to contact other agencies individually.

As part of your event planning you should ensure that the following aspects are considered and controlled:

  • Who is responsible for the event, together with there being a sufficient number of stewards attending on the day
  • Risk assessment(s) over all activities being included at the event, and ensure that all hazards are identified and risks evaluated to ensure attendants safety at the event
  • Public Liability Insurance has been organised to cover the event
  • Any equipment e.g. Bouncy Castles (Opens in a new window or downloads a file), Fairground Rides (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) have been inspected by a competent person and are safe
  • Sufficient First Aid provision is in place
  • Sufficient toilet provision is available for the capacity of the event
  • If food vendors are attending, that they are registered with their local authority and have proper food safety controls in place

Once the plan has been reviewed, we will advise you of any additional details that are required, and whether a multi-agency Safety Advisory Group needs to be convened to discuss your application.

Large or Potentially High-Risk Events

If you are organising a large or potentially high-risk event it is best to make contact with the Comhairle at least 12 months in advance to give the Comhairle and other agencies plenty time to look at your plan in detail.

Events on Council Premises

If your event is being held in Comhairle premises or on Comhairle ground (i.e. a local park), then you should contact the Comhairle service responsible for that venue as early as possible to discuss your plans.  Any delay in contact could jeopardise your event.

Further Information

Fire Safety

As part of your event plan you should ensure that you have completed Fire Risk Assessment(s) (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) for the event.  You should include any temporary structures (tents/marquees) and use of firefighting equipment in the assessments.

Further information and advice is available from:

Documents and Forms