Friends of Brockwell Park condemns ‘intolerable’ damage to Park by Sunfall festival

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.

This memorial bench was removed without permission.

 Another bench, commemorating a former Lambeth Mayoress, was seriously damaged during Sunfall.

Damage to the granite base of the removed bench.

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.’

9 thoughts on “Friends of Brockwell Park condemns ‘intolerable’ damage to Park by Sunfall festival

  1. Oh my goodness, really shocked to hear about the bench damage & can’t understand what might have happened there? So upsetting for the family concerned & I can see now that other families will feel anxious about this happening to theirs if there are future events like this at the park.

  2. Having attended many such events in the past across London, I think that the service they provide, when done well, is often something very wonderful that is an important thing in the lives of large numbers of fellow residents of this great city of ours and should be supported (in moderation of course!). We live in a major global city and the occasional day of loud noise and inconvenience is par for the course. However, it is vital that the organisers of any such event treat both the park hosting the event and the people who attend it with full and proper respect and it is clear that the organisers of Sunfall did neither, so I would like to hope that the Council will decline any requests for future events in the park from this particular organisation. We also need some kind of enquiry/report on the events of last Saturday so that we can come up with more robust procedures and rules to ensure there is no repetition of this in future. And, given that there had been similar queuing nightmares at other events in the park in the past, I think it is also fair to ask why this was allowed to happen again. But please let’s not use this as an excuse for curtailing all such events in the park. A definite yellow card, but not a red one just yet.

  3. Allowing this festival to take place in one section of the park has caused great damage not just to that area but to large parts of the rest of the park and surrounding area. It is clear that the organisers could have done far more to prevent this damage but as they didn’t, the event and these organisers cannot be allowed to return to the park. There is no excuse for lazy organisation for an event that charges £65 per person per session. If future events like this are allowed to take place and result in similar damage we are heading to a situation where a well-loved and cared for park which is used by all members of the community becomes a grassless wasteland (much like parts of Hyde Park) used simply as a platform for ticketed events that exclude the majority of local residents. Those who grant permission to events like this must consider the full impact of the event on the community and see things within their longer term context: there is no need to run events like this to fund the care of the park, large parts of which are already looked after by volunteers.

  4. I agree wholeheartedly with the points made in this article. I am also interested to know if the ontract terms in place were sufficient to obtain paymen to cover rectification of the damage caused including litter collection.

  5. My wife and I are completely disgusted by the Council’s willingness to allow such an utterly inappropriate event like this in Brockwell Park. We fully support the Friends’ position.

  6. I returned to the park with my dog this Monday (14th August) after having been away for the last few weeks. Without knowing all the background information above, or the chaos during the event itself, I was pretty shocked by the aftermath. The hoarding that closed-off the area was ‘aggressively’ massive, there was tons of rubbish and a terrible smell of urine and waste around. Now that most of the construction has been removed, it has left both huge bleached areas of grass and stretches of stinking mud. It has literally wrecked the area it covered. The ‘security guy’ at Brockwell Gate was busy ordering pizza when I walked past him (?!) but there also seemed to be a lot more people hanging around in that area of the park drinking that I haven’t seen in the park before. It doesn’t compare to the efficient set-up/clean-up of the super-organised LCF, or the smaller w/e festival earlier in the summer. Those events demonstrate a real care and respect for the park and local community. I’m also upset to hear about the benches – can’t quite imagine how anyone would think that was an ok way to behave. Please don’t let this festival come back to Brockwell next year!

  7. In complete agreement with FOBP. I spoke to the police who encouraged residents to complain to the council – some 12 police officers had been called off other important work to sort out the crush caused by Sunfall’s lack of security staff. I also witnessed 3 separate drunken young men urinating in public, one in full view, up against the green wall around the festival.

  8. The comments from Stephen Benyunes look fair and sensible. Personally I’d love Lambeth Council to stop using our park as a cash cow altogether but – I can see that smaller festivals can be good for many park users. So yes, maybe a yellow and red card system would be a good idea (with control from Friends of Brockwell to Lambeth as well as from Lambeth to festival creators). Realistically though, an instant red card to Sundance – that amount of damage and disturbance must never be sanctioned. There was just too much disruption all round.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *