§ Mr. Pike
To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage, pursuant to his answer of 14 June,Official Report, column 460, what is the relationship between local authorities, police authorities and the Football Licensing Authority in determining the safe capacity of standing terraces in the second and third divisions of the Football League.
§ Mr. Sproat
The vast majority of second and third division football grounds are designated under the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975. It is the responsibility of the local authority to issue a safety certificate for such grounds, in consultation with the police and fire authorities. This sets out how many spectators may safely be admitted to each part of the ground. The terms and conditions of safety certificates are for local authorities to determine, although they are expected to take account of the advice contained in the Government's "Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds". The guide covers all aspects of sports ground safety, including the calculation of the safe capacity of terracing.
The Football Licensing Authority was established under the Football Spectators Act 1989. Under section 13 of the 1989 Act, the FLA is charged with keeping under review the discharge by local authorities of their safety certification functions under the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 in relation to sports grounds at which designated football matches are played. Specifically, the authority may, after due consultation, require a certifying authority to include in any safety certificate such terms and conditions as the FLA may specify in writing.
Following the review of the Government's all-seater policy last summer, football clubs in the second and third divisions of the Football League were permitted to retain some standing accommodation, provided it was safe. The FLA subsequently commissioned a report on safe terracing by the Football Stadia Advisory Design Council. This document, which was published at the end of March, augments the advice already available to clubs in the "Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds". The FLA will, if necessary, use its powers under the Football Spectators Act to ensure that retained terracing meets the necessary safety standard and that the permitted capacities are set at a safe level.
We are consulting the FLA about the extent to which clubs will be required to upgrade their terracing in line 502W with the recommendations of the Football Stadia Advisory Design Council's report. My right hon. Friend expects to make an announcement shortly.