Brockwell Park Events Strategy - The Facts

What do Pete Townshend, Madness, Paul Weller, Sham 69 (pictured), The Damned, and Elvis Costello have in common? They’ve all played to tens of thousands of people in Brockwell Park. 150,000 people already attend a popular summer festival held every year in the Park – the Lambeth Country Show. The estimated attendance for events across Lambeth’s parks and open spaces each year is currently around a million people, with around 65% coming from outside of the borough.

30,000 people attend the Lambeth Fireworks held in Brockwell Park every November - exactly the same as the Lovebox Festival licensed capacity set by Tower Hamlets Council for Victoria Park. Lovebox itself is an established music and arts festival which began on Clapham Common in 2003.

The timing of the Lovebox/Citadel festival weekend in Brockwell Park in July 2018, means it takes place a week prior to the Lambeth Country Show.  To reduce the impact on the Park and its users from multiple build and break periods for events, it has been proposed that the two events share infrastructure, i.e. there will be minimal change in the week between the two to protect the Park, and reduce the number of vehicle movements. It also means potential cost savings for the Lambeth Country Show. 

Amongst the hyperbole surrounding Lambeth Council’s Events Strategy, it’s important to reflect its underlying aim to, “create culturally diverse events across the whole borough which everyone can enjoy and get involved with as much or as little as they’d like.” This article sets out to look at the facts with regard to the new Events Strategy.

  • Lambeth Council’s aim is to develop a programme of the equivalent of 8 (high quality) major event days in Brixton – the equivalent of 4 weekends a year (out of 52).
  • The definition of ‘major events’ includes music events; festivals; picnic concerts; fireworks; outdoor cinema; and other sporting and cultural events.
  • Local accountability for major events will be safeguarded through the process of community engagement through the event application protocols, and the LESAG (Lambeth Events Safety Advisory Group) will be responsible for the safety of event.
  • An environmental impact fee (Parks Investment Levy) will be levied on tickets for major events, with 1/3rd to go directly into the park or open space where the event took place. The income from the PIL for the Lovebox/Citadel weekend is estimated to be £50,000. In addition, Lambeth Council will negotiate a bespoke commercial fee with the event organiser for use of Brockwell Park as a ‘premium venue’.
  • The strategy sets out the acceptable music noise levels for major events, and the fixed noise monitoring locations for events in Brockwell Park.
  • The Lambeth Fireworks moved to a ticketed event in 2014, is run by a private company and has a licensed event capacity of 30,000. On this basis, the Fireworks counts as one of Brixton’s 8 annual ‘major event’ days;
  • Income from major events will be used to create a Lambeth Community Events Fund (approximately £40,000 per annum) enabling the community to lead and own community events.
  • EventLambeth has an income target of £1.5million and the Events Strategy is designed to diversify the service and make it more economically effective for Lambeth taxpayers.

What’s interesting looking at Lambeth Council’s 2016 committee minutes regarding the Events Strategy, is just how many of the local concerns currently being aired were addressed by councillors at this time. Far from riding roughshod over public opinion, the Council’s own public consultation about the Events Strategy proposal for major commercial event days, showed 44% of local residents to be in support, against 29% opposing.

So it’s right for us all to engage with Lambeth Council to fine-tune arrangements for major events in Brockwell Park in 2018, but wrong to assume that any of us holds a monopoly of public opinion on this matter.

Comments

Nice picture of what an inclusive festival looks like. What you don't see in that picture: fences!

What you will see in Brockwell Park if multi-billion dollar company Live Nation get their way? That's right, fences, fences everywhere!

Fences that that will take away from the public half of Brockwell Park for three weeks of the most enjoyable hours of the summer (rather than just a weekend). How that is conducive of an inclusive event that everyone can enjoy is anyone's guess...

You make a fair point Bruno, but the Lambeth Events Strategy is designed to generate income through ticketed events which will benefit other areas, including the free Lambeth Country Show. It's worth noting that the community benefits from Lovebox/Citadel include:

  • A commitment to take on five full-time apprentices from within Lambeth on 18-month paid contracts to gain entry level experience in the music industry.
  • Priority employment opportunities to local residents, and priority trading opportunities to local food traders.
  • Free/discounted tickets to local residents via a ballot system.
  • Annual donations to the Brockwell Park Friends Group and additional contributions direct to the Brockwell Park MAC where possible.
  • Building on Lovebox's existing partnership with Brixton youth organisation, Reprazent.

I don't think anyone has claimed to hold a monopoly of opinion. But I can understand that the strength of opposition being voiced must make it look like that. There are certainly not many voices demanding that the events go ahead.

One of the (many) weaknesses of the events strategy consultation is that it failed to differentiate between respondents who would be adversely affected by the proposals and those who would not. Amongst those who raised noise levels as a concern, presumably those within earshot of venues, opposition outweighed support 3:1. It therefore should not be surprising to find strong vocal opposition in communities immediately surrounding the park and along its access routes. 

It's also important to remember that the 4 weekends year, quoted above, refers to the performances only. It does not take into account the several additional weeks of set up and take down during which large areas of the park will be turned into building sites. And the weeks during which areas will cordoned off for repair.

I could go on...

It's great that you have posted and I respect your view. But a summary of cold hard facts it is not.

Thanks for your comments. You're right to point out noise as an area for concern, but it's also right to point out that this is being taken very seriously by both Lambeth Council and the Lovebox/Citadel event organisers.

There's no getting over the fact that an area of the park will be fenced off, but the site plan for Lovebox/Citadel shows that The Lido, BMX Track, Tennis Court, and Brockwell Hall will all continue be available for normal Park users whilst the festival is in progress. People will be able to walk their dogs in the Park, stroll through the secret garden, browse the community garden/greenhouse, joggers will be able to jog, and children will be able to use the playground and the paddling pool area. It's good to put the extent of the disruption into proportion.

I didn't raise the question of noise. I highlighted the fact that the consultation used to demonstrate support for the event does not differentiate between those affected by the proposals and those who are not. 

When you assure us that both Lambeth Council and Love Box are taking noise issues very seriously, what exactly do you mean and how do you know?

We are conducting a survey on this very issue. It is being shared with street groups that boarder the Park and with Park users, including those in Southwark. We want honest feedback and would be grateful to anyone who lives near the Park for taking 2 minutes to submit answers.

Here's a screen grab of the first set of results. Please note, the 'Yes' option is not quite zero, but this is too low res to show the value (less than 1%)

Good on you for taking the scientific approach! Q2 is displaying a false negative, as Southwark residents in Herne Hill will obviously not have been consulted on a Lambeth Council policy.

You appear to be suggesting that it would be inappropriate for the views of Southwark residents affected by events in the park to be considered in Lambeth's strategy.

It's worth remembering that Lambeth was taken to court  by Wandsworth council earlier this year over nuisance recklessly caused to Wandsworth residents around Clapham Common. Lambeth were forced to settle out of court for an undisclosed sum. That is the price of ignoring the views of residents with a supportive and proactive council behind then. I trust Southwark is paying attention.

It's entirely appropriate for Southwark residents to express their concerns to their local Southwark councillors. That's local democracy in action. The Lambeth Events Stategy applies across the whole borough. Nearly a third of a million people live in Lambeth, and in public consultation the majority said that they supported the Events Strategy. That's local democracy in action too.

Hi there,

Would you be able to provide a link to the survey, so that other residents can participate? For what it's worth (and it isn't the most important point here) I certainly did participate in the Lambeth culture consultation, although conversely I didn't see anyone asking me about it when I went to the HH market on the weekend.

As with most surveys in this field (including this one, the Lambeth consultations, or consultations about the Herne Hill Neighbourhood Area Boundaries) there will usually be a sampling bias/self-selection bias and it is very hard for them to be representative (and thus 'scientific') - but organisations can just do their best. As has been mentioned, making sure we include sample sizes and collect as much other data about participants (eg location, age, sex, etc) as possible is one way to at least interrogate the data.

Thanks,

Maia

Hi Maia, 

Of course, survey link below.  We completely acknowledge the issue of survey bias - it is very difficult to strip it out as the people who participate in these types of survey in particular are very much a self selecting group.  This survey therefore concentrates not on whether people are for or against the event (which we acknowledge would be a bit meaningless, as it would only be filled in by those against) but is simply looking to record levels of awareness of the consultation.  We are targeting it at people either in Lambeth, or Southwark but who specifically use the Park and we have prioritsed sending it to streets adjacent to the Park.

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/KV77HMD

If people want to express an opinion about the events themselves then a better place to go would be the Pledge:

http://chn.ge/2zZMsPg

It will come as no surprise to most people that consumption of rock music is in decline, any more than hearing that the way people listen to music is changing. The big current debate is not even about how we are listening to music now (on mobile v. on-line via computer ot tablet v. bought CDs v. attending major music events), but as to whether the young are actually paying to listen to licensed music delivered via paid audio streaming services.

    There are articles suggesting that the decline can be traced back to the 60s. So what keeps rock concerts/events going given that The Guardian was asking back in 2011 “Is rock music finally dead ?” only to then conclude that as part of the music market cycle it would be back. Others have argued changing demographics, and the fact that listeners have simply “moved on”, are the cause. Nevertheless with the massive shift to private listening, through mobiles and similar devices coupled with headphones, the wide area saturating noise of a pop concert is clearly an anachronism. Normal conversation is about 60 dB, a lawn mower is about 90 dB, and a loud rock concert is about 120 dB. In general, sounds above 85 are harmful, depending on how long and how often you are exposed to them and whether you wear hearing protection, such as earplugs or earmuffs.”

    So Peter Blair's attempted justification of Lambeth's actions is missing the point. That is not the issue. Yes, of course Lambeth is cash strapped like every other LA, and is unsurprisingly looking for ways to make a buck or two to prop up its ailing finances – it would help if it were a bit more up front about its motivation – but this is simply not the way to do it by imposing such a massive loss of amenity on the residents of Herne Hill without any consultation. Contrary to the claims that Lambeth had previously consulted on this I was unable to find a single person at Herne Hill market today who had actually been consulted. One even notes that Southwark is still funding entertainment events rather than trying to make a quick buck from them.

    Nor is it unsurprising that huge swathes of Herne Hill residents are opposed to the loss of use of a major chunk of their much loved Brockwell Park for weeks on end in the height of summer for the entertainment of huge hordes of outsiders. Moreover, I also discovered that I was not the only one who felt that Lambeth's actions in promoting Brockwell Park as a suitable location for such noisy events were cynical, given that Wandsworth Council had taken Lambeth to court earlier this year over excessive noise at similar events on Clapham Common. Even more so when you check out the plan for Lovebox and note that the massive array of speakers are directed at Southwark residents who no one has bothered to consult.

    Southwark residents should complain to Southwark via the form at https://forms.southwark.gov.uk/ShowForm.asp , or when the noise is ongoing by phone  020 7525 5777, and also to their local councillors. 

Hi, sharing the community link for the Lovebox Festival. Just to note in respect of your noise points:

  • Agreed volume levels will be monitored by on site by the industry’s leading acoustic consultants in conjunction with Lambeth Council;
  • Lovebox will provide a residents’ hotline and e-mail address, which will be staffed throughout the event, so that complaints can be individually investigated.

Sound levels agreed by whom? The council who increased the allowable volume levels so as to make the park more attractive to festival promoters. Certainly not by the local residents.

And their authority for doing this? The same dodgy consultation which no one had heard of yet apparently confirms that higher sound levels is what we all desperately want.

Lambeth's Events Strategy sets the Maximum Noise Level (MNL) at 75db, and maximum low frequency Music Noise Level (LFMNL) at 90db - outside defined noise sensitive premises bordering Brockwell Park.

Those are indeed the recently increased limits set by Lambeth in order to attract major event organisers. It's worth bearing in mind that a 10db increase is roughly equivalent to a doubling of noise intensity. 

All good points. Living room music - radio or TV-audio - is generally taken to be 76dB. Doubtless some people will find this annoying, but the events are taking place on weekends, with an 11pm curfew on Saturday, and 10.30pm on Sunday. Your neighbours' summer garden barbecue will often cause more noise disturbance than this. The minimum ambient background noise in urban areas generally is taken to be 40 dB, and is probably higher in Herne Hill with aeroplanes overhead and the busy roads surrounding Brockwell Park.

It's a useful illustration (even if you are using the lower of the two figures). Perhaps the consultation should have included the question: would you mind having a stranger's TV playing in every room of your house for four weekends next summer?

It simply does not matter what noise levels are set, or even that they are being monitored by a competent authority, when Lambeth fails to impose any meaningful, enforceable penalty into the agreement, like £1,000 per minute where the sound level exceeds 75Db. 

Hi Lovebox.  Could you confirm whether it is you that is using Right Relevance?  Apologies if it isn't you, we really don't want to accuse you of something you are not doing and I will happily clarify and tweet that it is not you if you provide us with a statement.  But there is a rumour going round that it is Lovebox, and if so Lambeth Council and all of those people who are supposed to be providing impartial community consultation might need to know so that they are aware they are being lobbied. 

I go by my name in this forum, live in Herne Hill, and have no connection with the event organisers.

Not making the noise in the first place is another thing.

And Lambeth's track record on taking effective action is IMHO pretty abysmal.

Peter Blair states "Southwark residents in Herne Hill will obviously not have been consulted on a Lambeth Council policy" The point is that Southwark residents should be consulted on any Lambeth policy that directly effects them.  Peter's knowledge of Lamberth policy and Lovebox's festival plans is impressive and implies a source of information greater than can be gleaned from trawling the internet. In the interest of full transparancy, would Peter like to confirm that he's not working on behalf of a PR company representing any of the proposed festival organisers or an employee of Lambeth Council?

Thank you for asking. I am happy to confirm that I am not working for either the Council or festival organisers.

Nearly a third of a million people may live in Lambeth but according to the consultation for ‘Culture2020’regarding the proposed increase in sound levels at outdoor events only 343 comments were received with 220 in favour and 117 against along with 6 neutral comments. 343 respondants is hardly a representive sample. And to reiterate stakeholders in Southwark directly affected by this decision were not able to make their voices heard. As you point out we can contact Southwark councillors. This is something I have already done and I would encourage my fellow Southwark residents to do the same.

Assuming the Lambeth population to be 318,000, this sample size equates to confidence level of 99% that this reflects the views of the general Lambeth population (with a 6.97% margin of error +/-). This means that we can say with 99% confidence (based on your figures) that between 57% and 71% of Lambeth residents support the Council's proposals on this issue.

These calculations would apply if we were talking about a random sample. Difficult to claim that the small sample of people who responded to an obscure consultation are representative. Using the same quirky maths you could claim that the general opinion of Council officers is representative of the overall population... which tends to be the Lambeth modus operandi.

I think you've slightly lost sight of your original comment here. There is a local campaign of objection by people who expect to be affected by the proposals. Objectors are not limited by borough boundaries and do not need to consider the fact that folk from other parts of the borough (another borough, for some) may have voted in favour of a carefully worded abstract strategy principle in a very questionable consultation. I don't mind that you are wildly in favour of the events or that you are doing your very best to drum up support for it. What I find obnoxious is your implication that this community should STFU because a very questionable consultation could be loosely interpreted as suggesting that the rest of Lambeth have decided that the affected communities should take major disruption on the chin for their entertainment.

Dear All, a really useful thread here. Thanks for both content and tone. I really want to support any event in HH which is aimed at 16-28 year olds. Sadly, the way these events have been presented to the community has given the impression of a ‘done deal’. Also, there seems to be little thought given to the impact on the wider area. Lambeth could have addressed this up-front. Indeed, the promoters seem to be talking more about this than the Council. Is it possible for the promoters’, Council’s and Community’s interests to be reconciled? Here’s hoping.

Hi Peter and GKFH,

Just a point to note that I myself am still undecided about the specifcs of these festivals, and I have found this post and subsequent posts as useful to gain more information. I haven't felt that Peter is 'widly in favour' and I appreciate hearing more information. In general I see many benefits of these festivals: to the local council finances (not just for the park but also for wider public services), young (and older!) happy festivalgoers and their families, to 'culture' and am also just weighing up the negatives in terms of long-term park and nature disruption.

As a resident relatively close to the park boundary who frequently uses the park I haven't found the existing festivals overly burdensome (some drifting weekend noise, obviously some fences for a few days, more people in the area), although I'm also now seeking out more informaton about the differences between past festivals and these ones. I have found Peter's contribution really helpful for that. More to find out still, yes, but I'd like to say thank you for presenting a different angle to what have sometimes appeared (but which are clearly not only) knee jerk responses, and for attempting to direct us to further information. 

Maia

Regarding your experience of the past festivals in Brockwell Park, I have posted in another comment below on what the main differences are between Found festival and what has been proposed. I hope that will be of some use understanding why many believe that that the proposals are a step too far.

As well as these differences, my own concerns about Field Day come partly from attending the event last year. The moment I stepped out of the station I commented to my partner "Thank goodness this is not happening where we live". There were people publicly urinating, disinterested officials loitering, kids openly taking balloons of nitrous oxide in the street and spent canisters and other mess everywhere. Within the event all the central circulation areas had been churned into lakes of mud due to a lack of drainage and lack of walkways. Again, one of our group commented that they'd be so upset if this were our park. 

At the recent public consultation Field Day proudly told the audience that they had ten years experience of successfully dealing with preventing ground damage. When I described what I had experienced at Victoria Park last year and asked how ten years of experience had not enabled them to avoid it, Jamie Akinola (Lambeth) interrupted and moved the questioning on. Another consultee pointed out that the same 40,000+ visitors were to be wedged into a site much smaller site than that at Victoria Park, so this would intensify damage.  Again, no coherent answer. A consultation is supposed to be just that but neither Lambeth nor the event organisers wanted to participate in an open dialogue.

I wasn't the only person to notice Field Day's lack of preparation. This is the concluding paragraph of an otherwise enthusiastic review of Field Day 2016 from music fan blog neverenoughnotes :

"We can’t wait to be back next year. Several points to make would be the absolutely sodden ground and no attempt of the festival organisers to mediate what was – for some – an almost-impassable terrain. Having passed several wheelchair users, who were at a larger disadvantage at attempting to get through the streams of mud, we found it something of a shock; the festival was being supported by Attitude Is Everything, yet Field Day made no effort to make it a lighter task by covering the ground in boards, or providing any other kind of accessible route."

Mud isn't much of a problem in Glastonbury where a week later the only occupants of the fields will be cattle.

Thanks for your thoughtful contribution to the discussion Maia. There are clearly issues to work through with Lambeth Council and the festival organiser(s) on issues such as licensed capacity, noise mitigation, etc. However, our starting point for anyone wishing to bring a large cultural event to Brockwell Park should be that they deserve a hearing.

Agree with you entirely GKFH, it's good to unpack the issue in a little more detail and have this discussion. There is a teenage/young adult demographic in our area who would welcome the opportunity to experience a music festival with their friends in a safe environment, a few minutes from home. Indeed, the June 2016 Found Festival in Brockwell Park passed off without any of the current furore. Is there hope for the promoters’, Council’s and community’s interests to be reconciled? Well, the organisers of Lovebox/Citadel have set up a community hub to explain how they're working with the local community (https://lovebox-citadel-community.squarespace.com/community-hub), so the opportunity for dialogue rather than invective is there.

Apologies. It would appear that I misinterpreted your previous posts as being firmly dismissive of any attempts to start a dialogue by unpacking the The Facts you have quoted from Lambeth's Event Strategy (here and elsewhere). 

 

So, to unpack your comparison with Found Festival... Found was a one day festival. It had less than half the capacity of Field Day's biggest day and about one eighth of the number of visitor expected over the three days. It operated under the old sound limits - not the new higher ones for 'major events'. It enclosed an area less than half the size and for a much shorter period of time than has been proposed (and many people learnt from this just how these enclosures and construction work impact on the park). Found was not back to back with other events. 

 

Also, you need to understand the context that Lambeth’s eight day annual limit for ‘major events’ does not apply to smaller events like Found. According to the strategy, the council can host any number of those that they like on top of the eight days of those classified as "major events".

 

Does any of the above help you to understand why a significant proportion of the community who were cautiously tolerant of Found and all its teething problems, might not be quite so relaxed about the current proposals?