Summary of the discussion of Field Day and Mighty Hoopla event held following the AGM on Sunday 17th June 2018
1. There was considerable concern about consultation. The meeting noted that Lambeth was not under any legal obligation to consult the community at large or parks organisations but believed there was still a civic responsibility to take their views into account.
Brockwell Park Community Partners does not receive any information about planned events until the SAG consultations are provisionally concluded and there is little that can be done to alter the arrangements. The wider community usually has no means whatsoever of input into event planning. Where very large events, such as Field Day/Mighty Hoopla were concerned, the meeting believed this was unacceptable. In general, it was felt that the event consultation process was opaque at the best of times and, in this instance appeared to have been very badly organised.
2. Noise: The experience of noise was very variable. Some members reported very little noise nuisance at all (e.g. Frankfurt Road) while, for instance at the Herne Hill end of Croxted Road, Turney Road and between Tulse Hill and Brixton Hill, noise was excessive and described as unbearable. This appeared to be the result of the DJs station being unshielded and sited close to the Herne Hill Gate demonstrated that it was not possible to control noise pollution from the park completely.
3. Public safety: It was clear from reports on social media that there had been a problem with dangerous overcrowding at the top tent (Barn) on Saturday night. Comments from the public suggested that this was very frightening for participants. There were also reports of drug-taking. There had been times when the path by the BMX was crowded with children wanting to use the BMX track and people arriving in large numbers for the festival. It was noted that the Met Police would collate all the safety issues centrally but that information would not be available to community and park groups.
4. In general it was thought that stewarding and security had been good and that litter had been adequately dealt with.
5. Infrastructure: Damage to the greensward has been extensive, most particularly, in the “Barn” area where no dance floor had been put down. Grass close to path edges was badly damaged and needed replacing.. There was also very serious damage to a path near the Hall, which was now un-useable and would have to be completely replaced. There had been damage to benches and other infrastructure (including the Clocktower*).
Repairs to the ground were proceeding quickly but it was likely that some areas could not be repaired immediately and people were concerned that the Lambeth Country Show would compound the damage. The replacement turf, which would have been produced industrially, would not reproduce the biodiverse, plant and insect-rich greensward that had been destroyed. There was debate whether Lambeth had any legal responsibility to preserve the health of the park environment.
It was pointed out that Lambeth and the Heritage Lottery Fund between them had spent £6.5m restoring the landscape of the park from the neglect and deterioration of the 70s, including repair of paths and replacement of the Victorian land drains. These paths had never been intended to bear the weight of the enormous rigs that are needed to deliver the infrastructure for festivals like this. Some of these paths are now irreparably damaged and it was feared that the new land drains would be damaged by the weight of these vehicles. There was resentment that the park was currently possibly being repaired, in order to facilitate further festivals in the future. This was regarded as a misuse of a public asset.
6. It was generally accepted that the organisation had been good, that clearly festival goers had enjoyed it and the Field Day/Mighty Hoopla had conscientiously tried to minimise impact on the park and the community. There had also been a much lower attendance than that originally envisaged. Even so, the amount of damage to the park and the impact on park users, who had restricted access to the park between 20th May and approximately 12th June, was significant.
There was a view at the meeting (also expressed on social media by festival-goers) that an event that had evolved in Victoria Park over some years was being “shoehorned” into Brockwell Park into an environment that was not big enough and not suitable for it.
Brockwell Park Community Partners (Brockwell Park MAC)