The Friends of Finsbury Park have their AGM this evening at 7pm in the Finsbury Park Trust Offices on Seven Sisters Road. "Everyone is welcome"
They've been given leave to appeal the outcome of their failed legal action to ban large scale events in London's parks. Sadly it seems they are still pressing ahead with their campaign to remove Finsbury Park's main source of income, send the park into decline and put a stop to events enjoyed by thousands of Londoners.
In their little post-truth echo chamber they continue to repeat concerns about damage to the park and security issues, neither of which were significant problems during last summer's events. They say the park will be just fine without the major events income, a belief which is backed by neither evidence nor common sense at a time when council services are being severely cut.
Here's Martin in a news clip on the subject. The FoFP was set up to promote the interests of the park and all of its users, but still appears to be prioritising the concerns of a handful of local residents:
Not sure that your comment over all makes sense, but certainly the first part is not true. There's nothing fake about the Friends of Finsbury Park and they have done great work over the years with the Council and on their own to bring about improvements to the park. Personally I appreciate all the work they have put in and I also appreciate the legal challenge to what is basically the privatisation of a public open space and which does cause lasting damage.
Huge festivals close off use of the park to local residents and also cause lasting damage. Some of the visible damage gets repaired - although plenty is still visible months after the event, however there is also long term damage to trees as a result of large vehicles driving underneath them which compacts the soil - meaning it is harder for them to get water and nutrients.
Also any residents nearby have to put up with loud music whether they enjoy it or not. In any other circumstance that would be called anti social behaviour. I live half a mile away and I can hear it from my flat so I pity people who live nearer. The fact it is for profit does not make it suddenly ok.
I hope the Friends succeed in their legal challenge.
Alex - I live close to the park so thanks for thinking of my welfare. You don't speak for me though.
Could you point me towards this lasting damage you've mentioned please, perhaps provide some photos? The only issues I spotted following last summer's festivals were a few small areas of grass which were re-seeded and which grew back within a few weeks. Even the Friends didn't manage to find much more than that. The festivals use spreader plates on the vehicle routes to limit damage and soil compaction and there's no obvious evidence (e.g. dead patches of grass, water pooling) which would point to any damage that the earthworms can't sort out on their own.
I wouldn't claim to speak on behalf of everyone, but I am aware that there are plenty of people who do live close to the park who can't bear the noise. Great that you don't mind it, but does that mean other people who don't like it should have to put up with it? The Council recently publicised a case where they got a criminal anti social behaviour order against a resident who under the terms of the order cannot play amplified music outside. So why is it considered ok when it's done by a company to make money? The reality is that it is anti social to force other people to listen to music when they don't want to.
As for long term damage to the park, last time I visited there were still visible bare patches in some of the re-seeded areas - and these areas can't be used for usual purposes while the grass is recovering either. Plus there is also permanent damage to some of the pavements from the metal tracks that were laid down.
But I also suggest you try looking up the impact on trees of ground compaction. It's not always immediately visible, but it can cause death and stunting of trees. Here's a basic explanation but there are plenty of others should you care to look. During the last major music event I saw lots of lorries and other vehicles parked or driving over areas underneath tree canopies where there will be tree roots below. In fact the roots often extend further than the canopy. Check out this document produced by the arboricultural association in the UK, especially section 16.
I don't object to the use of the park for concerts generally - but I think Wireless is too big and they take over the park for too long. Dominating the park for 2 weeks is a big chunk of the summer. They should be told to get in and out more quickly.
It's sort of nice to put a face to the name of the group in one regard. I must commend them on the energy they've got for this campaign even if I don't agree at all with them.
I definitely can't agree with his comments that festivals bring about 'rough sleeping, anti-social behaviour, drug taking and litter in the streets' as that's Finsbury Park every day of the week.
Set against an expansive and empty park, I couldn't resist a wry smile at one of Martin Ball's introductory comments in the piece that Tris links to:
Having said that, I'm not sure we should resent the group their day in court. It's something they feel passionately about and they have a right to a fair hearing. The courts may not always get it right, but they probably do so more often than not. Whatever you think of the concerts/no-concerts issue, it is wholly appropriate for local residents to challenge the limits of a local council's power. I suspect that events in the US are going to give many of us good reason to feel very warmly towards them. If you count yourself amongst that number, then you gotta take the rough with the smooth.
Absolutely, local residents should be supported to challenge the policy and comment on the management of events but they should be doing that via a residents association or similar group. The Friends of Finsbury Park has no business representing a small group of residents in this way, and in doing so there is a major conflict with their primary goal of looking after the park for all of its users.
I believe the inspiration for their campaign came from similar activity in Battersea Park where there was local opposition to the annual Formula E racing event, but the Battersea campaign seems to have been coordinated by a separate Action Group instead of hijacking the Friends for that purpose.
For what it's worth, the FoFP has made some valid points about past events, and the council and event organisers have made changes to improve security, post event cleanups, damage repair, to limit closure times for the areas involved, and reduce the impact of crowds and noise on surrounding areas. Last year's events were much improved as a result, and a large sum of events income has been invested in improvements to the park, but this positive news has received little acknowledgement from the Friends because it doesn't fit their agenda.
I think those changes are a given with running any large scale event a second time. The council and promoters could work all these things out quite happily on their own.