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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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The point is that the 1906 law says they can't spend any money generated by Finsbury Park on any park other than Finsbury Park. 

The ruling is clear that income from Finsbury Park can only be spent on Finsbury Park, no where else.  As is mentioned elsewhere some Finsbury Park income is earmarked for improvements to Ducketts Common.  Don’t know if that will hit the buffers now.

I wonder if they could change the legislation slightly so that events income from a park can be only be spent in that park or other parks in the same ward? Then the money could be spent not just on Finsbury Park, but also Fairland Park, Duckett's Common, Green Gate Common, Railway Fields and perhaps that bit of the New River path between Hornsey Station and Wightman Road?

That is going to be a very impressive new playground! 

Some new toilets would be much appreciated - the men's toilets in Finsbury Park are metal with little bits of wood stuck on as a 'seat', which is not very nice for adults & even worse for small kids...

Oktoberfest comes to Finsbury Park ... this one's a Halloween Special


The Friends of Parks Groups of which I am a member have grappled with this for a good long while, on both a local and national level. There are around 6,000 such groups in the UK, and growing. People care.

A deep concern is how vulnerable parks are. The Council has no legal obligation to spend any money on Parks and Green Spaces at all. They could sell them off, and have done in some places.

The national campaign wants to make it a 'statutory' duty for Councils to maintain our parks. Then standards can be applied so as, for instance, to make the economics more easily understood through comparison. Some progress has been made.  

I suspect, as others imply on this thread, that the Council will move the money around so as to carry on earning and spending - what else can they do, build houses on them?  A vicious right-wing austerity ideology but even if there's a change of government, it'll be a very long time before Councils, let alone parks, are adequately funded.

What is needed is what is always needed in both local and national issues - attention and involvement by those most directly affected. Use it or lose it! One thing that comes across if you look into this is that the Council Officers who square this circle day in day out are generally great people, dedicated to success with vanishing resources. I'm most interested in trees and you can see the tangible effects of their brilliant work over decades all around - there are as many trees as there are people in London, and they're blooming - that's a massive benefit to all of us, worth supporting.

There is a Friends group local to you - please join in if only to enhance your own enjoyment and meet 'birds of a feather'. Here's a list of most of the Friends Groups for Haringey parks and green spaces (maintained by the Friends Forum - not a complete list):

Apparently, the Friends of Finsbury Park are pushing the Council to respect the judgement. A solicitor's letter has been sent to the Council asking them to "amend policy forthwith to confirm that monies generated by Finsbury Park will only be used for the purposes of maintaining and improving Finsbury Park".

Read more at the FoFP website

Very interesting ruling, Hugh and one that many of us living near the park (and using it frequently) have always felt was the fair way of dealing with the events.  It would certainly help my attitude towards big events being held in the park if I knew that all the money raised was going to be spent on Finsbury Park, and then be able to see each year genuine improvements and maintenance to a high standard undertaken. 

It's a huge dilemma though, isn't it. What if the Council have to close parks in Tottenham because of this ruling?  They are legally able to do that because they are under no 'duty' to maintain parks for us.

And what about the 'gentrification' effect on the area of a 'luxury' park in one place whilst other parks are dreadful?  I see some activists have successfully agitated for the closure of some small museums because the unequal spread of facilities harms poor locals, pricing them out.

They've already cut budgets in some boroughs so much that, for example, some parks that used to be locked overnight are not any more and so all sorts of damaging things go on that budget would have helped prevent, including people gathering to deal drugs under cover of darkness, bring 'attack' dogs out and 'training' them by goading them to strip the bark of the trees - a tree cannot survive that.

Who'd be a Councillor!



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