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Council risks ‘serious backlash’ if it goes ahead with plans to increase number of concerts in Finsbury Park

Ian Brown of The Stone Roses, who will play Finsbury Park next June. Picture: PA/Yui Mok Ian Brown of The Stone Roses, who will play Finsbury Park next June. Picture: PA/Yui Mok

Saturday, December 15, 2012
7:00 AM

Proposals to increase the number of events held at Finsbury Park have been unveiled just weeks after a promoter was granted a year-round licence to hold concerts.

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Draft budget proposals reveal Haringey plans to tear up the current agreement, which allows up to five concerts per year in the park, so it can increase the revenue it receives by £85,000 over the next two financial years.

But the plans have sparked concerns that noise and disruption will increase for residents who live near the park – who have little opportunity to appeal against future concerts since Haringey agreed to grant promoter SJM a licence which will simplify its future applications for gigs.

The licencing committee has also agreed to increase crowd capacities by 25 per cent, from 40,000 to 50,000.

Haringey’s Liberal Democrat group is now demanding residents be consulted about any increase – with Stroud Green councillor Katherine Reece warning the Labour administration would risk “a serious backlash” if it goes ahead with more events.

“The concerts in Finsbury Park are hugely enjoyable for those who attend, but local residents and park users need to be considered too,” she said.

“For many local families Finsbury Park is their back garden and the concerts can mean nowhere for their kids to play. These events can also cause huge damage to the park, turning grassy areas into mudbaths as happened in Hyde Park this year. This damage can take months and months to repair.

“The council needs to hold a full consultation with local residents and park users before making any decision to hold more concerts.”

David Schmitz, Lib-Dem councillor for Harringay ward, has also questioned how much money any extra events would make for the council.

He said: “While every penny counts, the amount left over from £40,000 after cleaning up the site will not be worth the disruption caused to local residents. Their needs must be properly considered.”

A council spokesman said the proposal would allow more flexible use of Finsbury Park for things like community events, fairs, concerts and festivals. However, the schedule would continue to “be carefully managed” to help minimise disruption to residents.

“We are committed to striking the right balance between commercial, community and general public enjoyment of the park,” he said, adding: “Permission will be needed from the council’s parks service for each event. As with all budget proposals, this recommendation has to be approved by cabinet and full council.”

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