#NationalParksandOpenSpacesPetition : funding for public open spaces #Finsbury Park

At the Friends of Gillespie Park’s AGM earlier this week, Dave Morris, Chair of London’s Green Spaces Group, was the invited speaker.

He highlighted the strains on the financing of urban public open space, which is highly vulnerable to continuing funding cuts from Central Government as local authority expenditure on parks is “non-statutory”, and therefore, can be reduced or ended. Coming from Haringey, he was able to point out that this financial year Finsbury Park is obliged to raise £900,000 from events to cover running costs (not sure if this is Finsbury Park’s running costs alone, or those of other Haringey Parks) and as a consequence a significant part of Finsbury Park would be fenced off while big music events take place during the summer. There is already local opposition to this year’s “Wireless” Festival which is to take place in Finsbury Park during the hot weather, attracting c 50,000 people per day, squeezing out local residents’ use and damaging the environment of the park. As well as the noise of the music, prison-like fences are to enclose nearly one third of the Park for three weeks, and testing noises take place for the week preceding events. Residents from Islington and Hackney get most of the noise, due to the geography of the Park, but have no ability to hold Haringey Councillors to account.

The Friends of Finsbury Park are now crowd-funding to mount a legal challenge to Haringey Council’s right to hold this concert: https://thefriendsoffinsburypark.org.uk/home/ The group’s solicitor, Susan Ring, has identified an article in the Greater London Parks and Open Spaces Act (1967) which states that open park space enclosed for entertainment may not exceed “one acre or one tenth of the open space”.

The Finsbury Park situation highlights the vulnerability of our urban parks to neglect and exploitation by cash-strapped local authorities, and the National Federation of Parks and Open Spaces have organised a petition to demand, amongst other things, that the government brings in a Statutory Duty to monitor green spaces to Green Flag Award Standard: http://www.natfedparks.org.uk/parks-petition.html

Please take a look at both these campaigns, and give them your support.