South London council accused of 'shocking disregard' for residents over park damaged by music festivals

An opposition politician has accused a South London council of a ‘shocking disregard’ for local residents after it didn't reply to her letter about damage caused to a popular park by festivals.

Councils are currently restricted in what they can say on politically controversial matters due to pre-election rules known as Purdah. But Donna Harris, leader of Lambeth Council’s Liberal Democrat group, said it was ‘beyond regrettable’ that officials hadn’t responded to her concerns about the state of Brockwell Park following music festivals held there in May and June.

A photo of the park in Herne Hill, South London shared with the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) by councillor Harris shows a large patch of mud with tyre tracks and a hole where there would normally be grass. The damage to the park is widely acknowledged to have been caused during two weekends of back to back festivals in the park in late May and early June.

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Mighty Hoopla was one of the festivals held in Brockwell Park earlier this year
Mighty Hoopla was one of the festivals held in Brockwell Park earlier this year -Credit:Lorne Thomson

In a letter sent to the council’s Labour leadership around a fortnight ago, Cllr Harris argued that no more festivals should be scheduled until an inquiry has been held into the events held this year. As part of the investigation, Cllr Harris said Lambeth should reveal how much money commercial events in the park, like the Mighty Hoopla, had generated for the council and detail how much it would cost to repair damage to the green space.

Cllr Harris said: “It's beyond regrettable that there has been no response from the cabinet member or the council to my letter regarding the devastation of Brockwell Park. Their disregard for Lambeth’s residents' concern is truly shocking.

“As well as a full independent enquiry, the Liberal Democrat group would like to see a citizens’ assembly with both residents and stakeholders. This would provide a clear path forward securing trust and sustainability. It is important we do not lose the [Lambeth] Country Show or the opportunity to bring people together with inclusive events, but it needs to work for all, including Brockwell Park itself.”

'£500,000 a year spent on maintaining and improving Brockwell Park'

A Lambeth Council spokesperson said: “We hugely value award winning Brockwell Park, as well as the 70 other parks and open spaces in Lambeth. Our parks and open spaces have hosted some of the biggest names in the music industry as well as significant charity events that raise millions for important causes. These events are integral to showcasing Lambeth’s unique cultural identity.

“Although events cause a degree of damage, all the costs of restoring the ground back to its original condition is met by event producers as part of our terms and conditions. We spend £500,000 a year on maintaining and improving Brockwell Park, including planting dozens of extra trees during the winter planting season.

“Events are only permitted on areas that have been classed by independent ecologists as of low biodiversity value and the Parks Investment Levy from events income funds numerous biodiversity initiatives across our parks and open spaces.

“Based on regular transects and surveys undertaken by wildlife organisations, we know that Brockwell Park is one of the best locations in South London for birds, butterflies and other wildlife, demonstrating that great cultural experiences and high biodiversity value can exist side-by-side.”

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