Yesterday I saw a notice fixed to the Finsbury Park Manor House Gate giving notice of a licence application for an event in the park – The Open Arms. When I got home I had a look on the Council’s licensing application web site. The information was as on the attached screenshot. I then did some further searching on the Council web site and found further details - see the attached file.
To sum up the area to the north east of the Mckenzie Gardens (the garden near the lake) is going to be let out for four months from 17 May to 17 September. The event will take place on five days a week – Wednesday to Sunday.
The event description is:
“The Open Arms is a performance-led pop-up occupying Finsbury Park for summer 2021. As a recipient of the Arts Council England’s ‘Culture Recovery Grant’, we will be looking to bring to life an activation that celebrates and supports the rich pool of talent living within the borough. Essentially we providing a stage for local performance in the midst of rapid venue closures.”
It will involve live entertainment; live (amplified) music; food stalls and a bar. The area will not be fenced and access will be free and not ticketed. The organisers anticipate a maximum of 200 attendees at any one time.
I can see some potential problems. Whilst the idea of free entertainment is nice, there is the problem of the music noise. Local residents could be faced with having to put up with this five days a week for four months. The Council document states:
“Due to the low numbers within the venue at any one time (200), it is anticipated that any noise levels emanating from the onsite performances will be kept to a minimum, with minimal effect on park users, and local residents”
However, there is no information given as to noise levels permitted and how the Council are going to monitor this – if at all.
A second issue is the number attending. The organisers say 200 at any one time. However given that there are no controls on numbers there could be any number turning up, and as the numbers increase the amplified noise levels go up inevitably as people want to hear the music.
A third issue is the application to sell alcohol. With completely free access to the bar will there be any checks on under-age drinking?
PS: The end date - 8 April - is the last day of the consultation for the application and comments must be received by the Council licensing people by then.
The other concern about alcohol sales is that the organisers are seeking a licence for consumption on and off the premises. So alcohol consumption won't be restricted to the event area, it seems that one will be able to buy a pint and go anywhere in the Park. Boozing by the lake, by the children's playground? Is this what the Council want?
Perhaps I am misinterpreting the licence application, but I have tried to get further information from the licensing department but they are not responding.
As opposed to high summer, where the park is absolutely rammed full of people drinking cans and bottles in groups?
Any more info about line-up or anything?
Sounds a bit open mic
Pub in the Park by stealth.
Sounds like it could be fun but I can’t imagine how they will regulate numbers without fences.
I reckon they’ll be inundated.
It is a Pub in the Park by stealth.
The event description (included in my original posting) which was sent by the Council to Finsbury Park stakeholders on 5 February for consideration of the ground hire application made no mention of a pub or the sale of alcohol.
Event activities were described as being “Event activities: Live Entertainment, Live music, On-site Catering”
The hiring application which went to the Council gave the impression that the primary purpose of the event was to provide entertainment, it appears that this is not the case. The pub is the prime reason for the application, but this is barely mentioned in the Report for a Cabinet Member decision - 19 March. The Report states that the ground hire application is for "a performance led pop-up venue" It doesn't say that it is for a bar and in the nine page report the bar is only mentioned once at paragraph 6.10.
The Licensing Dept. have informed me that their view of the Premises licence application is that "The application is for an open air pub …” “…. and the entertainment is ancillary to the alcohol, it will not be the reason for people attending the park.”
On the face of it, it appears that the information to stakeholders and to Councillors was misleading.
Thanks for bringing this to our attention - could be a really nice thing, or could be really disruptive - would be much better if they granted the license for a 2 week trial period so any issues could be addressed early on ....
Honestly, I really like the idea - open to all and not too late-running - but how are they going to limit the numbers if it's not fenced or ticketed? Or am I reading it wrong?
There a bit of a clue in the application
The Applicant is in receipt of the Arts Council England’s ‘Cultural Recovery Grant’ and is looking to bring to life an activation that celebrates and supports the rich pool of local talent, as the country emerges from lockdown. The programme of entertainment will include live music, theatre and spoken word.
I'm reading that as being small performances by locals rather than stadium fillers!
In case anyone has forgotten, remember the last time that there was a pub in the park. The Oktoberfest in 2018.
The story in The Sun with the headline : "PUNCH DRUNKS Oktoberfest London fight chaos as mass brawl breaks out with drinkers throwing benches at boozy event"