15.11.2017 | Campaign
At the time of writing, the Friends of Finsbury Park are waiting for a judgement on their appeal to the High Court, which has major implications for the protection of public parks.
Last year they brought judicial review proceedings against the Council about the continued over-use of the park for private and commercial events, which involved fencing off large parts of the park from the public and damage to the park’s infrastructure. Supported by the Open Spaces Society, the Friends case was be heard on 2 November 2017 and a judgement is expected within a month. The case focuses on the number of days in a given year that a park can be rented out and the size of events in London. There is a good article on the case by Richard Morrison in The Times: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/richard-morrison-a-park-should-be-an-oasis-of-peace-not-the-site-of-a-rock-festival-7qfklpp62
In London, there is an area-restriction of a tenth of the park being closed off (Ministry of Housing and Local Government Provisional Order Confirmation (Greater London Parks and Open Spaces Act 1967, Article 7), while in London and the rest of the country, section 44 of the Public Health Acts Amended Act 1890 limits the time that a park can be closed to no more than 12 days in a year or 6 consecutive days on any one occasion. The promoters of the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, and Haringey Council are arguing that s.145 of the Local Government Act 1972 allows a local authority to ignore the 1967 Act and the 1890 Act, and it is this which the Friends and the Open Spaces are challenging.
While dealing with specifically London legislation, the decision has potentially major implications across the whole of the UK, where the same pattern of over-use in premier urban parks is developing as a result of government-imposed budget cuts. Events have always been part and parcel of the functioning of a successful park, but this is different. First, the pressure to raise increased revenue is unprecedented; second, security arrangements are more intrusive than ever resulting in large areas being fenced off from public use, and third, modern logistics are more heavyweight than ever, with over-sized articulated transport which can damage and destroy and damage park roads, paths and trees. Many of our parks are now threatened with damaging intensification of events programmes and infrastructure, and not just hard-up municipal parks, but the Royal Parks and, as readers of the News will be aware, many National Trust sites.
The Gardens Trust has pledged £200 to the cause and if you feel you would like to support you can donate online at https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/protectlondonsparks/