Following an enquiry made through our local RA, the Hermitage New River Association, one of our local councillors has kindly provided details of Haringey's plans for spending the Finsbury Park events income, set out in the table below.
Note that the projection for 2019/20 assumes that the events income next year will remain at the same level.
There's quite a lot going on over the next year, much of it under the banner of the park's 150th anniversary which will be celebrated in early August with community events in the park. Improvements to the McKenzie Garden (the formal flower beds near the playground) are mentioned but I don't know what's involved there.
The proposed playground renewal (including the red climbing structure and adajcent Richard Hope space) has gone through a consultation process that's been whittled down to three options which you can see here. The first phase, replacing the red climbing structure, is due to be completed by August 2019.
Also noteworthy here is an increased investment in staffing. According to the council's response, this will include the establishment of a dedicated Park Manager, two Park Rangers, a team of 5.5 Park Keepers dealing with bin emptying and litter picking in the park and dedicated Project Officer to implement the improvements. The Park Manager, Park Rangers and expanded Park Keeper team will be in place before the spring. The Project Officer is now in post.
New pathway lighting and CCTV coverage is planned, following the recommendations from the security audit which took place a few months ago.
TfL is consulting with key stakeholders on a proposal for a new cycle path which would use a strip about 5m wide on the Seven Sisters Road side of the park. I don't think documents are in the public domain yet but I'm sure the Haringey Cycling Campaign (who I understand support this scheme in principle) will share details in due course. Incidentally, I imagine this proposal probably explains why the council has announced plans to replace this stretch of fenceline - most probably it's within TfL's project remit.
The response also confirmed that money raised through events in the park is ring-fenced to be spent in the park, with any unspent income rolling over to the following year. It's a pity that surplus income can no longer be used to help support the borough's other parks, but the figure for "park operational costs" suggests that there is a certain amount of off-costing going on within the parks budget, given that this figure has more than doubled from about £300k three years ago.
Our RA is planning to continue the discussion with the council on a positive footing and hopefully we'll be able to obtain a little more detail on budgets and timelines for specific items and provide an opportunity for residents and park users to have a say in how the park is managed.
What about the Friends of Finsbury Park, I hear you ask? Well, having failed to remove Wireless Festival and associated income, they are patting themselves on the back for securing £1m to be spent on the park each year. At their AGM last week I suggested that they renew their focus on representing the interests of park users and engaging with other stakeholders, rather than focusing solely on the issue of Wireless and its impact on residents. That went down about as well as could be expected, but there was tentative agreement that perhaps their representations would carry more weight if they can demonstrate that they have a wider consultee and support base. Let's hope things are moving in the right direction.
I think the Friends have more or less reached the end of the road with their Wireless campaign. Live Nation has challenged the Licence Review outcome on various grounds (they appear to have a strong case based on nationally adopted noise thresholds etc) and the Friends will not necessarily even be involved in this process. There was a direction hearing at Highbury Magistrates Court on Thursday morning to set out the course of the main hearing which will likely be early next year.
Can I just check what the table shows. The total is labelled as "Income from Finsbury Park Events". But the line items above look like expenditure. Their total equals the income figure. If the line items represent the full park expenditure, it suggests that 100% of FP expenditure is financed by events. Do I have that right as far as you know?
That does appear to be the case but I suppose it's possible that the table simply excludes any income / expenditure relating to the general parks budget, so it isn't possible to say for certain.
It does state that this is the breakdown of how events income is being spent across a number of areas.
What I find most peculiar is the bulk of the cost seem to be in ‘Operational costs’ and ‘Staffing’ costs - which refer to maintenance, management and event management in addition to other cost of direct labour. That adds up to £730k per annum for 2018/19.
Assuming £10 per hour, an 8 hour work day and 250 days per year of employment that’s c. 36 individuals full time for a year. Doing what?
The wages for staff are in the Staffing line (£185k). Operational costs will include stuff like machinery, tree works, planting, events and associated costs (like buying people in to run the events).
I figured it might include some other items... nonetheless it's almost exactly 50% of the expenditure from fees generated by events. I would be quite interested to see what exactly it includes.
You could ask for a breakdown. The salary costs of £185k isn’t what actually ends up in people’s pockets though. Something between 25-30% goes to on costs like employers national insurance contributions so the actual salary bill is going to nearer £115-130k. Maybe 4-5 staff and a supervisor post..
Here's an update following the council's Finsbury Park Events Stakeholder Group meeting last Saturday.
Apologies for the huge block of text - I've tried to add some paragraph breaks to make it a bit more readable but they disappear when I hit reply.
Thanks for this - was there any discussion of safety issues - the area around Manor House seems increasingly unsafe and there are still big problems by Bile storage area at Finsbury Park. Human waste also a big problem in parts of the park
Hi Anita, some of the changes proposed by the council will help - more park keepers will hopefully result in a cleaner, better maintained park, and the new rangers will liaise with the police and other agencies to help tackle ASB, rough sleeping etc. I think some of these issues will prove pretty difficult to tackle effectively in the short term though.
The area around Manor House seems to be attracting an increasing number of people with substance abuse issues who don't appear to be getting (or accepting) the help they need. The garden behind the Manor House Lodge (in the park by the entrance gate) provides them with an unofficial gathering point which is something that needs addressing. Technically the building is currently the HQ of the Friends of Finsbury Park, but they don't make any obvious use of this facility and seem to be turning a blind eye to the problems which are literally on their own doorstep.