We are fundraising to protect one of London’s most historic parks by stopping Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park and the damage and misery it causes.
Wireless Festival is destroying our park
We are the Friends of Finsbury Park and we are fundraising to protect one of London’s most historic parks by stopping Wireless Festival and the damage and misery it causes.
Wireless Festival is too big for Finsbury Park
Wireless Festival is a massive multi-million pound music event organised by Festival Republic (Live Nation). It is almost impossible to comprehend its vast scale and the impact it has on Finsbury Park. Last year’s Wireless Festival covered almost one third of the size of the Park, surrounded by an oppressive 8ft high green metal barrier to keep Park users out, in some areas stretching as far as the eye could see.
Many local residents don't have gardens so the Park serves as a vital outdoor amenity, and as events such as Wireless Festival take weeks to set up and take down the public is denied access to what should be public space. The carriageway in the park is also plagued by large vehicles driving to and from the site, which are wholly inappropriate for a park environment.
Last year’s Wireless Festival, which was held over two summer weekends, attracted crowds of 50,000 per day causing massive disruption, damage, excessive noise, and antisocial behaviour in streets surrounding the Park. The fence of a local school playground had to be wrapped in protective plastic as festival goers were urinating through it while children were in school.
We are not against Wireless Festival in itself, but its sheer size and scale is totally inappropriate to Finsbury Park. We are happy to see events staged which don't involve the closure of one third of the park in high summer, are more inclusive of the local community, and benefit the Park itself.
We are launching a legal challenge to stop Haringey Council staging Wireless Festival and similar major events in Finsbury Park.
Finsbury Park is a public park that was formed by virtue of the Finsbury Park Act 1857; it is registered as a Grade II Historic Park and Garden and is also Metropolitan Open Land.
After reviewing the relevant legislation it is our view that Haringey Council does not have the power to hold Wireless Festival.
We've tried everything to get Haringey Council to enter into discussions with us, but they refuse to listen, stopping all public consultation and ignoring stakeholder groups, local residents and park users.
What we are hoping to achieve
We want to stop Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park. We understand that council budgets have been slashed so there is less money to spend, but the Park already makes income for the council from smaller events such as the circus and funfairs, and location filming. We’d like Haringey Council to be open and transparent about how much the park costs to run and maintain, what income it generates without large scale events, and work with us to find alternative, more imaginative, streams of income which are more appropriate in type and scale for our wonderful Park, and inclusive of the local community.
Why this case matters to you
We must stop Haringey Council in any attempt to brush aside laws protecting the Park from private exploitation, as elsewhere commercialisation of London's green spaces continues to expand and grow. The council say that money generated by private events is ring-fenced and put into the maintenance and improvement of the Park, yet they refuse to give us any reliable figures to back this up.
The outcome of this case could affect all London Parks, as councils seek to sell off and privatise green spaces. The argument that huge commercial events such as Wireless Festival must take place in order to maintain a public space is deeply disturbing and cannot be allowed to happen.
The Victorians passed legislation to form Finsbury Park for the health and enjoyment of the inhabitants of North London, so it is essential that in what might be thought of as a more civilised age, we keep parks open for all to enjoy. If we don't stop Hariingey Council, the Park will continue to be annexed off and privatised. We must not let this happen.
How much are we raising and what is it for?
We are raising monies to bring judicial review proceedings to quash the decision by Haringey Council to allow the Wireless Festival to take place at Finsbury Park in July 2016. Our lawyers have estimated we will have to pay up to £35,000 plus VAT for issuing the proceedings and having a one day hearing in the High Court. We will not incur all costs immediately as there are various stages in the proceedings, so the initial issue of proceedings will cost in the region of £8,000 plus VAT. If we lose at the end of the proceedings we will also have to pay the Council's costs but these will be limited to £10,000 as this is an environmental claim.
Please donate now and help save Finsbury Park! We need your help because we have to stop Wireless Festival. Other Councils are already looking to host events such as Wireless in their parks. This isn’t just about our park. Commercial exploitation such as this will happen across the country if we don't make a stand. These are your green spaces, your community, your parks. We can stop this now, and save Finsbury Park for generations to come, helping our children and theirs to enjoy parks as the Victorians originally intended!
About the claimant
The Friends of Finsbury Park is a charity that was set up to protect one of London’s most historic parks. We are launching this challenge to stop Haringey Council staging Wireless Festival in the Finsbury Park, after the organisers Festival Republic (Live Nation) submitted an application to hold the event again this summer, as it is too damaging, dangerous, and disruptive, causing weeks of misery for residents and park users in the height of summer.We are a group of hardworking volunteers who really care about Finsbury Park. We are not the sole voice for the Park. We are here to help local residents and park users be heard.
What is at stake?- We are fundraising to protect one of London’s most historic parks by stopping Wireless Festival and the damage and misery it causes.What is the next step?- We are raising money to bring judicial review proceedings to quash the decision by Haringey Council to allow the Wireless Festival to take place at Finsbury Park in July 2016.Our legal team- We have instructed Susan Ring, a solicitor specialising in environmental and public law
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Our Fight Continues
At our court hearing on June 9th the Judge, Mr Justice Supperstone, granted permission for judicial review on all grounds but then dismissed the claim for reasons that he is to provide in his judgment, which is to follow.
The Friends believe that the judge was wrong to dismiss the claim. In holding that the Haringey Council had the power to exclude the public from more than 10% of the Park and for more than 12 days in a year or 6 consecutive days in a year, this decision has set a terrible precedent for the nation’s parks. The Council submitted to the Court that it can essentially do what it likes with the Park – it could in theory exclude the public from as much of the park and for as many days as it saw fit.
After the ruling Haringey Council stated that ‘live music events in public parks are no longer under threat.’ But instead the very parks that these events are to be hosted in are to become the victims, unprotected and free to be abused, and local residents will have to suffer.
If Haringey Council go through with all of their planned events for next year, huge areas of Finsbury Park will be closed to the public for over four months in the summer.
Should such a Council be the guardian of such an important and necessary public open space?
Without your support and help we would not have been able to take it this far. We’ve had tremendous support and encouragement from all over the UK as our case has generated nationwide interest. This is only the beginning and going forward, our fight will be joined by many more.
We will continue to fight for what we believe is right and are now considering an appeal. We will send another update shortly.
We now have our court hearing dates!
I can confirm that we now have our court dates and our case will be heard on either 7, 8, 9 or 10 June, before Wireless 2016!
Without the help and support of all of you who have contributed we would not have been able to get to this far. We now have less than a month to raise as much money as we can towards our legal fees, so please pledge whatever you can and spread the word by sharing this link https://www.crowdjustice.co.uk/case/save-finsbury-park/
Thank you again for your continued support,
Chair - The Friends of Finsbury Park
Case Update: The Friends Issue Judicial Review Proceedings
After an unsatisfactory response from Haringey Council to our pre-action letter, we have now issued judicial review proceedings. The Council must now respond in full to all of our enquiries as quickly as possible. The response is unsatisfactory because:
- The Council has made only a limited response to the detailed grounds as to why the consultation process was unlawful nor why they do not have the power to hold the Festival; one would have expected a much fuller response than the one provided.
- They have not provided the documents requested i.e. a) Festival application documents in full and unredacted; b) any planning consents and c) emails etc between the Council and Wireless Festival.
The next step in the process is for the Council and Wireless to respond to the claim; we have asked for the parties to agree that this matter be expedited so that the Council and Wireless provide their evidence and summary/detailed grounds for defence at an earlier stage than usual. We have also asked that the permission stage be skipped so that the hearing of the judicial review be a combination of the permission for judicial review and the substantive judicial review at a 'rolled up hearing' and will be heard in one go. We have asked the Council and Wireless to agree to directions for the future progress of the proceedings in line with the above, but have so far heard nothing from them other than an email from the Council acknowledging receipt of the proceedings.
Even in the light of a judicial review, the Council are attempting to secure yet more major events in the park. Kept very quiet from local residents, there are licensing notices up on the gates of Finsbury Park for a weekend of rave and drum & bass festivals on the 25th and 26th September with Park closures for up to two weeks. The organisers, Radioactive Clothing Ltd, are also applying for a ten year license to run four of these events per year with over 15,000 people per event. These four events would likely close large areas of the Park for up to six weeks or more. The Council must rethink what they are doing in the Park and treat it with the respect it deserves.
We need your help more than ever to raise money for the next stage of our legal challenge, so please pledge whatever you can and spread the word by sharing this link https://www.crowdjustice.co.uk/case/save-finsbury-park/
Chair - Friends of Finsbury Park
We've moved up a gear!
Great news! Thanks to your help, we have now funded over 25% of our goal! We still have more money to raise in order to bring judicial review, so please continue to donate and share tour page www.crowdjustice.co.uk/case/save-finsbury-park with friends, family and anyone you can think of who would support our case.
After meeting with our legal team last week, we have a very good case which raises several issues, so we are hoping to stop Wireless this year. Haringey Council must realise that they can't abuse a public park in this way.
Parks budgets are being slashed, and if we are to secure the future of our green spaces, we must look at alternative ways to bring in income and expand our ideas to look at community based park management schemes, new partnerships and events that are more appropriate for the spaces they are in and don’t exclude local people. These ideas will form the foundations for a better, more sustainable future for all parks.
Many thanks for your continued support,
The Friends of Finsbury Park
We hit our first target!
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