Charity calls for Finsbury Park to be ‘decommercialised’ after Wireless Festival cancellation

Tyga performs at Wireless Festival. Picture: Isabel Infantes/PA

Tyga performs at Wireless Festival. Picture: Isabel Infantes/PA - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

A charity has called for the “commercialisation” of Finsbury Park to be reviewed in light of Wireless Festival 2020’s cancellation.

Since Live National called off this year’s music event because of the coronavirus pandemic, The Friends of Finsbury Park has asked whether this is an opportunity to preserve the park as an amenity for the local community.

It stressed the group is not against all events, which bring in funds for the green space, only “destructive” ones, “scars from which are still visible in several places on Bandstand Field”.

Co-chair of the friends Tom Graham said: “It takes a major public space out of action and our preference would be for fewer events, smaller events and events which are much more community focussed.

“For these large commercial events, it doesn’t have to be the premise that Finsbury Park hosts them every year.”

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The group called for an increase in policing to reduce drug dealing and antisocial behaviour and the installation of CCTV and lighting as recommended by the police in May 2018.

Haringey Council, which manages Finsbury Park, said 70 per cent of the park remains open during Wireless Festival, including the boating lake, tennis courts and playground.

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It said the income from last year’s event alone paid for the installation of a new over-eights’ playground, the restoration of McKenzie gardens, and free events celebrating the park’s 150th anniversary.

Cllr Kirsten Hearn, Haringey’s cabinet member for climate change and sustainability, said: “Many local residents attend and enjoy these events, which also help keep Haringey on the world map.

“Major events raise thousands of pounds, with all the funds going straight back into the park.

“This year, there will be no income and that will create real challenges. We will, of course, continue to engage and work with park stakeholders, including The Friends of Finsbury Park.

“During the coronavirus pandemic, our focus has been on keeping people safe, and managing social distancing in parks, and that continues to be our priority.”

The Friends of Finsbury Park commended the park manager and his team for their work.

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