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very good question – and this is a key issue. We would always encourage groups to push the council to retain public liability insurance, partly because they can get it so much cheaper, in the main. It’s also a nice way of keeping them involved in a specific way.
There really isn’t any best practice around this at the moment, and it’s all happening on a case by case basis – there’s no standard way of doing things yet. So it will be up to the group/s to negotiate (perhaps by demonstrating that the business impact on the council of retiring the PLI liability is minimal, but would be big for the group). I believe the High Line in New York works on the basis of the city paying for the insurance and security and the “Friends” doing the rest.
You will likely get the more risk averse / legal teams in the council being very reluctant about this – and it raises a number of wider issues, I think, about the future role of LAs in their green spaces if they aren’t managing them. We do a lot of work with officers and members talking about how they can exercise appropriate control in appropriate ways if they are passing off the liabilities onto the community (they often want to stay very involved which is understandable but impractical, often!). I’d love to explore a bit more how keeping parks on the council’s PLI could actually provide reassurance about management standards to the local authority.
This is another one of the ways in which green spaces and buildings differ. Fundamentally, buildings are for their users, and you can shut the doors. Parks are for everyone (or everyone is a park user), and it feels appropriate to me that there is a closer role with the local authority, though such things as PLI, than there might be with a building in a similar location.
Very happy to discuss any of this further though!
A very specific question. I am RM for Totnes and there has been concern expressed by groups potentially interested in taking on open spaces, that they wish the District Council to retain responsibility for Public Liability insurance because of the potential costs to groups. Does liability for PL insurance costs transfer with the ownership/management, or is that something that has been accommodated elsewhere?