I read the Guardian article recently about the use of parks for events with some trepidation, only find that it was a fairly balanced review of both sides of the argument.
Having worked on projects with a number councils promoting park events both in and out of London, I was expecting a barrage of negative comments from locals around parks about the invasion of their privacy, losing their parks to outsiders for periods of time and the destruction of the local community.
However, I was pleasantly surprised, although I know that such arguments always lurk behind such articles.
The events that I have been privileged to work on had many positive effects as well as, of course, some negative effects depending on how you view this important issue. From one perspective which relates to both community events, and annual deliveries, there are some crucial elements which have to be taken into consideration in such an argument.
The first is for events such as Notting Hill Carnival and Lambeth Country Show. The development of the event itself has created such a strong community identity that the negatives identified by locals are often an over-reaction to a changing environment and an inability to understand the needs of a changing cosmopolitan culture that does in fact help and deliver the important cultural nuances provided by such event.
In my experience of working at both events the changes made by the councils have improved the events hugely, have reduced the incidents and challenges once causing bad press and a plethora of complaints because of them.
Annual events, such as fireworks and the now moved Formula-E at Battersea Park provide huge spectacles and enjoyment for the masses who would not ordinarily get the chance to be at such events.
The dog walkers, runners, and other users who cannot use the park during the set up and delivery of the event only complain because they can only imagine themselves and what they term as their park at the centre of the universe and give little thought to others who may be (god forbid) enjoying themselves.
If the park is flooded or impassable I am sure that they quickly find other short-term places to walk their animals or to run.
It is interesting to note the other tack that the Guardian article takes which is one at the nub of this issue and has been a bone of contention for many years, the lack of Local Government funding and the cuts authorities have to make every year to meet their budget targets.
What is first to go when a Council has to cut its budget? Of course it’s the non-essential services, or what we probably would term our ‘essential services’, including transport, village links and support, some forms of care and senior citizen support. There is also the arts.
So let’s ask those complaining what they would rather have, less services or events in the parks which help the local authorities meet their targets and fund things that we take for granted.
If you want less events in the park, then lobby the government instead to stop this disgraceful eroding of our councils and in essence the slow drain of resources to meet their own budget targets.
If you want to know more about this, talk to Cressida Dick and ask her why there are so few police on the streets and why they are at breaking point and she will tell you the same story, it’s about poor fiscal management by successive governments and the squandering of money from the public purse.
Not that I am angry of course, no I’m bloody livid.