The Friends of Brockwell Park views with the greatest reluctance the taking over of our beloved park by events such as last Saturday’s (August 12) Sunfall festival. The noise generated in such a small park, so close to so many dwelling houses, can be intolerable to the local community. And we believe the shutting down of a huge swathe of the park to public access for nearly two weeks is too high a price to pay for any income these events generate.
The fact that Sunfall organisers had inadequate arrangements in place to process people coming to the event, leading to huge queues, some violence and the Metropolitan Police being called does not endorse their competence in the eyes of local residents. The exit from the Park in the evening seemed almost as badly managed as the queue to get in. People were streaming out, causing huge crowds at the Brockwell Lido gate, with no stewards on hand to keep people moving or manage their exit from the Park. Outside the Park, Sunfall visitors were vomiting and urinating in local gardens.
Hundreds of nitrous oxide canisters and other rubbish covering the grass after Sunfall are not FOBP’s idea of the promised protection of Brockwell Park — and this lack of an organised litter policy again speaks to the organisers’ incompetence. The exercise platform, created at great expense for ‘the community’ was enclosed by the fencing without notice, and has been unavailable to people for at least 10 days. We cannot see how that could be justified. The much-loved model railway track, run entirely by volunteers, also sustained damage to its track ballast, while before the event had even taken place, there was an appalling churning-up of the ground just inside the Sunfall vehicle access area.
But it has come to FOBP’s attention that Sunfall organisers, without alerting or seeking consent from Lambeth Council or Lambeth Events, ripped one park memorial bench off its granite stand. When she discovered this, its donor was in tears at the disappearance of this memorial to her brother. She is making a formal complaint.
Another bench, commemorating a former Lambeth Mayoress, was seriously damaged during Sunfall.
These benches, gifts at significant expense of family and friends in memory of loved ones, are of considerable importance to their donors, regularly visited and cherished by them; and they are greatly appreciated by many other park users. To remove completely one bench on a whim, telling nobody, and to damage another, shows shows utter contempt for decent human standards and for the park and the council that mistakenly, it seems, hosted Sunfall
Peter Bradley, Chair, Friends of Brockwell Park, said: ‘This is intolerable behaviour and FOBP condemns it unreservedly. We look to Sunfall to provide a speedy apology and restitution commensurate with the hurt they have imposed on the donors.’
He continued: ‘It is London Borough of Lambeth’s official events policy to hold a number of such events in Brockwell Park a year, something FOBP has repeatedly told the Council is completely unacceptable. On the showing of this year’s Sunfall, with its chaotic internal organisation and its flagrant disrespect of the park it is privileged to occupy, FOBP believes there must be profound questions over the acceptability of ever again holding even one annual event of such a size in Brockwell Park.’