Safety at sports grounds
Building Control have a fundamental role in relation to sports grounds within the Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council area.
Special rules apply for licensing sports grounds and public arenas. These are obviously necessary where the buildings and structures hold ‘crowds’. Crowds have their own behavioural characteristics and these are taken into account in the physical design and construction of the venues.
However, venues and public places frequently host events that the original designers never contemplated. Many events require temporary structures for grandstands, stages, crowd barriers and media centres. From marathons to pop festivals, local authority building control helps organisers, contractors and other enforcement agencies to work together.
Building Control is the lead partner on Neath Port Talbot Council’s Safety Team for Sports Grounds and along with the Police, Fire Authority and Ambulance Service, the Safety Team deals with the issue of General and Special Safety Certificates in relation to the three designated sports stadia within the County, all of which have a General Safety Certificate which is reviewed annually.
- The Gnoll, home to Neath RFC
- The Talbot Athletic Ground, home to Aberavon RFC
- Victoria Road to Port Talbot AFC
This is an ongoing process as sports grounds, which, like all other buildings, are subject to alteration and extension. This is particularly important as sports grounds now also offer access for hospitality, conferences and use of the pitch area for non sporting events. Guidance on the safety of spectators at sports grounds can be found in the ‘Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds’, fourth edition, published by the Stationery Office,
The Building Control Section deals with the issue of General and Special Safety Certificates in relation to the three designated sports stadia within the County, advising on both fire safety and structural matters. The licence cannot be issued until the Local Authority is satisfied that the relevant sports ground is safe to use.
The Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 and the Fire Safety and Safety of Places of Sport Act 1987, require certain sports grounds to apply to the local authority for a ‘safety certificate’ Generally this means sports grounds with a capacity for more than 10,000 spectators (designated stadium), or stands in sports grounds providing covered accommodation for more than 500 spectators (regulated stand).
The Certificate specifies terms and safety regimes, which ensure that spectators attending a game are safe from dangers that can become all too real when large crowds congregate.
Enquiries on whether a sports ground requires a safety certificate, or applications for a safety certificate should be addressed to:
Applying for the safety certificate
Once a sport ground has been designated, it is an offence under section 12 of the 1975 Act to admit spectators until an application has been submitted to the Local Authority for a safety certificate.