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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Will the Number of Events Drop Dramatically at Finsbury Park? What the Income Figures Tell Us

As I've mentioned elsewhere on the site, a recent Appeal Court ruling to a case brought against the Council may have the effect of reducing events in Finsbury Park even though central case seeking to reduce the events was lost.

Although the Friends failed in their challenge against a judge’s decision in 2016 which allowed Haringey Council to continue hiring out the park for large-scale events, there was a sting in the tail for the Council which at first went unnoticed.

The sting was the Judge's note that in line with the 1906 Open Spaces Act, income generated  from events held in Finsbury Park can only be spent on Finsbury Park itself. This ruling strikes a terrible blow to the Council's parks funding strategy. The severity of the blow can only be understood by looking at the figures. Those below show income generated from events run at the park in 2017/18 and the resulting expenditure. 

A colossal £767,000 of events income was generated of which just £132,000 was reinvested in Finsbury Park. The lion's share of the remainder was used to fund the rest of the borough's Parks Service. (I can't find any readily available information with total spending on the Parks Service. Can anyone help?)

In theory, in future years, including apparently the current one, the full £3/4M could be spent on Finsbury Park. But one has to wonder whether the incoming administration will decide to continue hosting the current programme of events under current circumstances. Given the political downsides of continuing to run the events, absent of the trade-off of being able to finance the borough's Parks Service, this has to be in doubt.

There's a small possibility that future legal challenges may change the situation, but assuming they don't the future for events in the park is surely looking very different.

(The table above is produced by Haringey Council. The full note from which it came is reproduced as an attachment.)

Tags for Forum Posts: finsbury park, finsbury park court of appeal ruling, finsbury park events

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Well isn't that telling. Most of the effects of all of the events are felt by Hackney and Islington residents, so I feel it's right that the money made from them should only go back into the park itself.

As well as the impact on parks in Haringey will there also be an impact on all the other London boroughs who use event income to plug the hole in their parks and leisure budgets if this ruling is a precedent?  

Lambeth generate money from the SW4 festival on Clapham Common which is used to improve other parks in the borough.  Hackney raised almost a million pounds from events in their larger parks last year which was spend on improvements in all its other green spaces.

I can see a real risk in parks being handed over to management companies (as as already happened elsewhere) simply because there’s no money in the council coffers to run and maintain them.

I would imagine exactly that.

I can see the sense in the original Act. There is a logic to it, but in these straightened times it does pose a challenge to our parks.

I was just reading on the Duckett's thread that £125,000 is to be spent there. One assumes that wouldn't  be happening but for the Finsbury Park income. It's a finely balanced matter.

I think it is a question of balance. Parks - like everything else - are desperately in need of funding so raising revenue through events makes sense, and not all parks are of a size to allow this. But if the council gets over-ambitious and starts to run concerts every weekend during the summer, thus depriving people of vital local open space when they most need/want it and subjecting them to unacceptable amounts of noise and disruption, then nobody wins.

I'm sure we have been round this particular roundabout before - a decade or so ago there was a summer of non-stop concerts and it caused uproar. A couple of big weekend festivals, with proper oversight and careful regeneration of the park afterwards, seems a reasonable middle ground. And before you ask, I live close to the park and can always hear noise from the concerts quite clearly.

Maybe they can charge a bit less for the tickets, maybe the events can even be free and not require all those fences and security. Maybe we can have the Rise festival back, the Fleadh?

Hugh, is the attachment a council document or is it something you've put together, given that you've added a credit to Harringay Online? If this is part of a larger council document it would be interesting to see the original source.

I don't think your interpretation of the figures is entirely correct. As I recall, the council has said that the annual running costs of Finsbury Park amount to something like £250k so that's presumably coming out of the £545k figure, leaving around £300k intended to support the wider parks service.

I'd guess that the £132k is the source of funding for the proposed improvements in Finsbury Park (fence replacement, playground enhancements, sports facilities etc).

I haven't credited anything to Harringay Online. I've added that it's published by HoL so we own any mistakes it contains. Yes I put it together. Yes, I was given it as Council data.

In repeating your phrase "put it together", I probably haven't been as clear a I could have been. In fact what I did was to reproduce verbatim what looked like a 6th generation photocopy of a Council document. I don't think I've introduced any errors, but if I have, I own them.

Fair enough, thanks for clarifying and for releasing this info. I was just interested to find out whether these were the council's words or somebody's interpretation, and if the original context included any other interesting snippets.

Your publishing credit is the credit I was referring to, of course.

I'm also not sure about the interpretation. Here are the figures for 2015/16:

So in that year the base cost just to keep the gates open and grass cut etc. was £255K, it looks like the majority of the rest of the income was spent on new improvements to the park.

The source of the above is the final report of the Finsbury Park Events Scrutiny Consultation

One question is why the core park service costs have increased from £255K to £545K - maybe there are more core works planned this year?

And the other question is what the surplus reinvestment of £132K will be spent on (or has it already been spent?)- given that we now know it should only be spent on the park itself.

Thanks for posting that set, Joe.

I thought initially that we were looking at sets of figures that represent two different things, but I think not.

As far as I can interpret things, in 2017/18, a total of £202,000 was used for Finsbury Park. The remaining £565,000 was used elsewhere the borough. In 2015/16, apparently the whole of the income generated by events in Finsbury Park was spent on the park itself. So, in the year just ended, it looks like they may have robbed Peter to pay Paul.

If there's an ongoing need for the type of investment in Finsbury Park seen in the earlier set of figures, it'll make the question of whether to carry on runing the events much harder than the new set suggested.

It's a puzzle and I have a feeling neither of us is right, possibly because the council itself is confused about the exact figures.

There's a news article here which says the total parks service budget is £1.2m, of which £750K comes from events - and of that £750K, £600K specifically from the Finsbury Park events (and presumably the majority of that from the big weekend music events which bring in over £250K per event).

There are some more clues in the reports pack from the council's Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 26th March here e.g.

p12 "Income from events in Finsbury Park in 2017/18 had been £800,000. £50,000 had been spent on fences and similar amounts on tennis, netball and volleyball courts. Smart bins had also been purchased, which sent a message to operatives when they needed emptying. In addition, £35,000 had been obtained from the Environmental Impact Levy. Some of this had been distributed to a range of user groups through small grants of between £600 and £1100. Signage, new disability bikes and distance markers for runners and walkers were amongst the other items that the money had been invested in"

but later it talks about "parks" rather than FP specifically:

p14 "Ms Robertson reported that £800,000 had been raised from events in 2017/18. £545,000 had been used for the running of parks. The remainder had been reinvested in parks. She was happy to provide further details. "

There may be some answers in the webcasts for items 9 and 12 here

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