Cllr Jim Dickson is the Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care (job-share), and a Councillor in Herne Hill ward.
I’d like to repeat a massive thanks to residents who live around Brockwell Park for their forbearance over the weekend just gone as the Summer Event series – including the Mighty Hoopla and Cross The Tracks – has taken place. I don’t underestimate that it’s a really big ‘ask’ for people to give up a portion of the park for the weekend, a smaller area during the set up and take down period and to experience the effects of music and crowds for three nights. As a neighbour to – and lover of – the park for the past three and a half decades I live that experience with everyone else. That patience shown by residents has enabled a weekend of inclusive music and cultural events (with a hugely diverse line-up) which I know post-lockdown was hugely enjoyed by very many people including Herne Hill residents some of whom received free tickets.
The event generates investment directly into the park (£48k for park improvements and an extra £12k for community groups) ensuring Lambeth Council can keep a Brockwell Park – transformed from the bad old days of the 1980s when it was allowed to go to ruin – that is a well-managed and much loved ‘green lung’ for our community. It also brings considerably more than £200k income for the council which is invaluable in a time of continued central government cuts in financial support and with a park which has running costs of more than £400k per year. It provides additional custom to some (though I accept not all) local businesses, sees recruitment of local people to help run the event and gives opportunities for local bands to play on a festival stage for the first time. Parks are for everyone and for a large assortment activity – for recreation, families, learning and for culture including events of all kinds. It’s really important we remember that.
Councillors listen very carefully to the range of comment and response we receive on all issues and the Event Series is no exception. I’ve had emails over the weekend about the event covering noise and event management issues. The feedback they provide is valuable and they will all be answered and the issues addressed.
People have a wide spectrum of tolerance for noise (from zero to a fair bit) and this often reflects their mindset around music festivals in the first place but also family circumstances, work arrangements and more. Event Lambeth – the council team who work with organisers to ensure events are properly run – will review the noise data and responses from residents, examine complaints to the hotline from the weekend and look at what problems need to be solved for the future. For instance on Friday there was a particular issue with the bass and distortion heavy headliners Idles in the early afternoon (at a time more people are having work meetings) and this needs to be learned from. Some residents have expressed a view that the weekend was louder than Mighty Hoopla\Cross the Tracks in June 2019 which were both of a similar size; that will be checked although there were no breaches of the noise limits consulted on and agreed in 2016. That said there’s clearly more work needing to be done with acoustic consultants to see if the volume experienced by all who are outside the festival itself whether at home or work can be reduced still further.
There were issues raised with councillors about the activities of event staff outside the perimeter and one report of poor conduct by stewards which I’ve fed back to Event Lambeth. An instance reported to me of urination in a garden presumably by a festival goer and noisy behaviour on the corner of Crownstone Rd and Brixton Water Lane will also be part of the review.
Reinstatement to make good any impact on the park including any damage to gates and fences, streets or paving in its vicinity that has been caused by the event will be undertaken using a retention sum provided by the organiser (not from the fee to the council) to fund any works needed. As it takes place the work will be checked carefully by the event and park teams and reported to councillors.
Applications to a local ‘Community Fund’ financed from tickets sales (and fought for by councillors) of around £12-16k for local groups such as Brockwell Park Community Greenhouse and the Herne Hill Forum to fund local projects will open for applications soon and will be allocated during October.
My view has always been that a very strictly limited number of large event days during a year is the right approach for Brockwell Park. Ideally – as with 2021 – a solution which says one well managed large weekend event plus the free Lambeth Country Show every 12 months (with some smaller community events and activity which might in future happen at the shortly to be refurbished Brockwell Hall) provides the right balance between Brockwell Park’s vital role as an oasis of peace for local people and its potential to provide other cultural activity. Investment to keep maintaining and improving the park will continue to have to come from a variety of sources including of course the Council itself, the national lottery, grants from a variety national bodies (eg for sports facilities including the BMX track, tennis courts and possible new football facilities) and income raised from activity in the park such as we saw last weekend.
What’s fundamental is that we continue to work for an ever improving ‘Green Flag’ Brockwell Park, well managed in the public interest by the council (under our own fully in-house Lambeth Landscapes team) with residents and our community partners playing a vital role. And all done for the benefit residents both now and for the future generations of people who will want us to pass on the park in a better state than we found it.