Holding Public Processions (Parades)
Every person organising a procession or parade has to give notice to the Council no later than 28 days before the event of their intention to hold a procession or parade. In exceptional circumstances the Council can dispense with this notice period.
The impact of the Coronavirus (COVID -19) continues to have a significant impact on the processing of licence applications.
If you need to get in touch with the Licensing Team, please do so by email to the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Email enquiries will be prioritised and responded to on a priority/urgent basis. We cannot accept phone calls at present.
In the meantime, applications for licences and permits (with the exception of hire car applications, please refer to the hire car webpages for details of how to make these) should be posted to the
West Lothian Council,
along with cheques or postal orders for payment of any fee required and copies of all required supporting documentation.
If you are unable to post your application and fee please contact the Licensing Team by email.
Please be aware that there will likely be delays in the processing of applications due to changes in working conditions at present.
If you are an event organiser you should note that when possible applicants will be able to email amended applications for events which have been postponed due to Covid-19 as long as the details of the event remain exactly the same and only the event date is changing, any other changes to event details will require a new application to be submitted in the usual manner.
The council will consider your notification and can make an order imposing conditions on the holding of the procession or in very limited circumstances can make an order prohibiting the holding of the procession.
What is a procession?
Under Section 62 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 any moving event held in a public place anywhere in Scotland can be considered a procession. There is no statutory definition of procession which means that the definition to be used is the commonly understood definition. In the Oxford Dictionary procession is defined as "a number of people or vehicles moving forward in an orderly fashion" and so can include parades, marches, rallies etc involving persons walking, running, cycling or in vehicles. Processions are not restricted to events taking place on a road or footpath.
The legislation provides an exemption to this in relation to funeral processions organised by a funeral director acting in the ordinary course of his business.
Providing the council with notification of your intention to hold a procession or parade allows the Licensing Team to consult with the appropriate people and consider any arrangements that may need to be put in place to ensure the safe passage of your procession.
Your notification should be made in writing by completing theand be received by the Council at least 28 days before your procession will take place. In order that we can issue an order in plenty of time prior to your procession it is recommended that at least 3 months' notice is given of your procession, longer if it is a large procession likely to require a road closure. Please consult the guidance notes before completing your form. All forms are copied to Police Scotland and Roads Services for comments.
The Council's Roads and Transportation Services and Police Scotland will consider your responses and risk assessment given on the notification form and suggest which conditions should be applied to your procession. The council has an approved framework of conditions which can be found in the downloads section of this webpage. You can expect that conditions 1-18 will be applied to your procession. As part of the risk assessment attached to the notification form you are asked to comment on whether conditions 19 and 20 should be applied. You will be advised by the Licensing Team which conditions are suggested to be applied to your procession. If you disagree with any suggested condition the notification will be referred to the Licensing Committee and you will be given an opportunity to attend and make your case about which conditions should be applied. If you do not disagree with the suggested conditions an order imposing conditions on the holding of the parade will be granted using delegated powers.
The law in relation to the approval of processions, parades and marches was amended in 2007 following a review undertaken by the Scottish Parliament, which culminated in a series of recommendations being made with the intention of professionalising and modernising the way in which decisions about processions, parades and marches are taken. The recommendations were aimed to strike a balance between the rights of those who want to march and the rights of communities.
The Council has very limited powers to prevent a procession from taking place and very limited powers to impose conditions on parades. In particular in terms of the legislation it would not be possible for the Council to prescribe what a particular procession should be comprised of.
The legislation provides that the only considerations to which the Council shall have regard when deciding whether to prohibit the holding of a procession or impose conditions on it are:
1. The likely effect of the holding of a procession in relation to:
- public safety
- public order
- damage to property
- disruption of the life of the community
2. The extent to which the containment of risks arising from the procession would (whether by itself or in combination with any other circumstances) place an excessive burden on the police.
3. Where the person proposing to hold the procession has previously held one in that area or the people taking part in the procession, or some of them, are the same persons as took part in one previously in that area, or some of them:
- whether the previous procession was held in breach of a prohibition order issued under Section 63 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 on its being held or of a condition so imposed on the holding of it;
- whether any guidance or code of conduct issued by the authority as to the holding of the previous procession or as to the holding of processions generally was followed; and
- the effect of the previous procession in relation to public safety; public order; damage to property and disruption of the life of the community.
Please note that the guidance for Scottish Local Authorities issued by the Scottish Government in 2006 Guidance on Public Processions states that all processions will cause some degree of disruption to communities and businesses. However, it goes on to state that the degree of disruption may not, by itself (or with other events) be enough to prevent people from holding a procession, or from placing conditions on it. Each local authority is required to consider the circumstances of each notification and assess how far the procession would affect the community or any individual or organisation who can reasonably be considered to be part of a community affected by the notification and attach weight accordingly. The local authority is required to consider whether the level of disruption which will or may be caused by a procession will be far greater than the right to free assembly.
Complaints about the way in which notifications of proposals to hold processions are processed should be made to the Licensing Team. These should be made in writing by email or letter providing full details of the nature of the complaint and sent to the Licensing Team using the contact details box.