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.