A court hearing regarding The Friends Of Finsbury Park’s bid to halt this year’s Wireless Festival has been set for June 8.
The group claims last year’s event caused “massive disruption, damage, excessive noise and anti-social behaviour” to the area, and issued judicial review proceedings last month after receiving what it said was an “unsatisfactory response” from Haringey Council to its pre-action letter.
Through Crowdfunding, it has raised almost £11,000 of its £30,000 target towards legal costs so far. “We know parks budgets are being slashed, but 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,” says the group.
“Mega music festivals such as Wireless hosted in the cramped, urban environment of Finsbury Park, will slowly take over, damaging the fabric of the park and exclude park users for years to come if they are allowed to continue. Yes, the council should be looking at the potential for Finsbury Park to generate income in an era of reduced public sector cuts, but very careful planning is required to ensure there is no over commercialisation of the park and activities. The council must rethink what they are doing in the park and treat it with the respect it deserves.”
Wireless Festival director Melvin Benn has branded a Finsbury Park resident group’s campaign to halt this year’s event ‘nimbyism’ and warned any challenge to stop the event going ahead would be futile. “They will not succeed,” he said. “They have jumped on a bandwagon to try and prevent Haringey Council doing what the Government has insisted every single local authority do at this time, which is to gain as much income from their assets in order that the burden on the taxpayer doesn’t have to be increased. Haringey Council are doing exactly that and Wireless Festival is a great example of an event that provides significant income into the local authority, which then gets put back into the local authority.”
The Friends’ group, whose patron is Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, says the council does not have the right to allow the festival to take place under the Greater London Parks And Open Spaces Act 1967, because the festival shuts off 27% of the park when only 10% is permitted. However, Benn insisted that legislation pre-dates a 1972 act, which gives local authorities the ability to overrule it.
Video footage emerged from 2015’s event showing chaotic scenes when a crowd forced open a security door to gain access to the site. Festival Republic CEO Benn, who also runs events such as Reading & Leeds and Latitude, has not previously been involved with Wireless, but has worked on around 50 music events at Finsbury Park since 1990. He has been drafted in as part of a restructure of its operational team and on-site security.
Artists for Wireless 2016, set for July 8-10, include Calvin Harris, Chase & Status, J.Cole, Boy Better Know and The 1975.