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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

The Islington Gazette is reporting today:


Friends of Finsbury Park campaigners could restrict private events in parks across London

Legal action by campaigners trying to stop Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park could end up restricting events across the whole of London.

The Friends of Finsbury Park failed with a bid to ban the event last year after taking Haringey Council to a judicial review on grounds the park was being overused for private functions.

But the group did win an appeal to challenge Mr Justice Supperstone’s decision, which will take place at the Court of Appeal on November 2.

If they win the appeal, the ruling will not ban commercial events, but it will restrict the number of days they go on for and the size – and will apply to every council in the capital.

“This is not just about protecting Finsbury Park and safeguarding it for future generations,” said FOFP campaigner Tom Palin. “It will decide whether parks will be protected for local communities against commercial over-exploitation, or given away indefinitely for local authorities to hire out to whoever they want, for however long, regardless of its condition or the customer.”

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This campaign has little to do with protecting the park and a great deal to do with protecting the interests of nearby residents - people who live near a park which has regularly hosted large outdoor events over the last few decades, but who are unwilling to tolerate a little associated noise and disruption. For the benefit of these few people, the Friends are prepared to sacrifice events and activities enjoyed by tens of thousands of people across London, along with the cultural and commercial gains that these events provide.

A simple word count on the Friends' "Wireless Report" (here) is quite revealing: "resident" gets 86 mentions, "park user" appears just 9 times.

Resident concerns should be taken into consideration when planning and managing events, of course, but it isn't the responsibility of the park users group to represent them. In fact there's a major conflict of interest: the course of action they have chosen could be disastrous for park users in general if they succeed in cancelling the park's main source of funding from events income.

There are two specific pieces of legislation which they are hoping to enforce through their appeal.

  • The Greater London Parks and Open Spaces Act 1967 which specifies that the area set aside for events should not exceed the greater of one tenth of the park or one acre. The festivals in Finsbury Park occupy around 25%.
  • The Public Health Acts Amendment Act 1890 limits events to a maximum of four consecutive days and no more than twelve days in any year.

Interestingly, both Acts apparently apply only to parks and open spaces under the control and management of a local authority. If the Friends win their appeal, thereby removing the park's main source of funding, the council may be forced to consider leasing the park to a private management company who won't face the same restrictions and will be keen to extract the maximum commercial potential from the park. I don't suppose it's occurred to the Friends that their gun is pointed at their own feet again.

Why don't they just change the respective acts?

Oh god not again!
I do,wonder if, in light of this, Haringey will start looking at alternative funding models?

Two that I know of have been used. Putney and Wimbledon Commons get additional monies by raising an extra precept (an extra council tax charge) on households living within three quarters of a mile of the commons or within certain old parish boundaries. Others have taken a more slash and burn approach by selling or leasing off parts of parks to developers and in return for planning consent for commercial and residential development, using a section106 agreement to get funds for the management of the remainder of the park.

The precept model is a tricky one because in return for the money the local authority has to set up a kind of management committee and hold formal elections which are open to everyone who pays the precept. That means that the money from the precept gets eaten into to pay for things like elections, mailings to householders and so one.

The sell off approach is simpler and has the potential to reap considerable income.

If Haringey feel boxed into a corner by a ruling on this appeal they have two alternatives. Find the money for the maintenance of its parks elsewhere (and the income for Finsbury Park events is ring fenced to all parks in the borough, not just FP) or simply to spend less on management and maintenance. One of the biggest spends is on wages for people physically there doing things like opening, closing, litter picking, planting and patroliing..

Setting up an alternative funding model can't be done overnight and I wonder if the I initial reaction will be to cut staff, so restricting opening hours and maintenance?

 I am not part of FoFP so just heard about this here. I am really glad I don't live too near the park as although the bass is omnipresent on festival days, I can go out or shut my windows. It is a bit difficult to enjoy my garden on those days but not impossible. However for the general park users a lot of the park is used up and it is left in a mess afterwards. A lot of families use the park if they have no gardens and these events happening in the middle of the summer is really hard. There is open drug dealing going on, the park and streets around are littered with bottles and used nitrous oxide canisters and people who live nearby have had human excrement in their gardens etc. Thats why I am glad to be a bit away. The smaller concerts just don't cause this problem but I have just seen a raft of applications sent via SGRA and 1 has 45,000 and the other 50,000 audience. It feels to me there should be a way to limit concert numbers to 20,000 max as there are clearly some promotors who are happy with this number given other applications are 12,000. The park does need protection and I think the local residents could do with a break. Having door knocked the area at recent elections, there is huge diversity around the park and it would be interesting to know the impact on those residents as some are unlikely to be on here or SGRA. 

I live on The Ladder and the noise kind of ricochets up the New River. For those living right by the park it must be difficult to live with. However, I think that the FoFP appeal, if successful, will prevent more creative solutions being looked at. For instance I've been to the Affordable Art Fair at Battersea park which I imagine is a good income generator for Wandsworth.

A successful appeal would limit the number of days the park was available to hire out for any event. In an ideal world I would rather see a larger number of low impact events than a smaller number of big crowd ones. The appeal seeks to restrict both the number and size of events so will put Haringey (and all other authorities who come under the acts mentioned by Tris) in a position where income will lag way behind the loss of money from their budgets to manage parks.

It isn't leaving any room for better solutions and in the cash strapped world be live in at the moment and can't see how the circle can be squared.
In an ideal world the friends of Finsbury park would have a working relationship with Haringey council.

Haringey have hardly covered themselves in glory, but the "friends" are a complete shambles. For the more eagle eyed followers you will have noticed that the entire management committee was replaced 2 years ago, and the newcomers seem to be far more confrontational, as well as wanting to make a name for themselves on the national scene as saviours of the countries parks.

Being friend of a park is a deeply unsexy voluntary role, sadly the power seems to have gone to their heads and they continue to fritter away money on pointless legal action, which could have been avoided through building trust and relationships. 2 things which have been destroyed by the current "friends" of Finsbury park management committee.
When you think about it Billy, FP has an incredible potential to be a venue for smaller scale events that could really get some extra cash into parks and rec in Haringey.
Which other large park has a two tube lines, national and local rail services and countless bus routes almost at the entrance gates?
A marketing team could attract things like a winter ice rink, trade shows and so on. If those already running events like this are reliant on their customers being willing to schlep up to Alexandra Palace like they do now, somewhere as convenient as Finsbury Park would be really attractive.
Events like this would probably have a much smaller physical footprint in the park and less of an impact in terms of noise, anti social behaviour and so on.
But with the reduction in the number of days being mooted in the appeal all that will be left are a small number of fairly large events, so really just a continuation of Wireless and so on.
A dialogue with Haringey about something along these lines would have been far more productive than the current stance of the Friends group

See my post - a few minutes ago 

Finsbury Park Music Events - Summer 2018

For details of the six event applications for next summer.

Although there were six applications, the organisers of Field Day have confirmed that they are no longer planning to run their event in Finsbury Park.

The council contacted stakeholders on 6 October to tell them that only one of the June events would be going ahead and an article in the Islington Gazette confirms this. The Friends of Finsbury Park have cheerfully acknowledged this via Twitter but their campaign disingenuously continues to refer to six event applications.

Fortunately you too have a surname worthy of Lording it over us and passing your judgements ;)



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