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Highbury residents unamused by plans for ‘nightmare’ comedy festival

PUBLISHED: 12:28 05 May 2016 | UPDATED: 14:36 05 May 2016

Highbury residents are concerned that the comedy festival could result in anti-social behaviour, a loss of amenities, damage to the park infrastructure and is too close to the children's playground

Highbury residents are concerned that the comedy festival could result in anti-social behaviour, a loss of amenities, damage to the park infrastructure and is too close to the children's playground

Archant

Homeowners around Highbury Fields have not seen the funny side of plans to hold a comedy event in the park later this year.

If approved by the council, Laughterama – described as “a new boutique comedy event” – will take place in two venues in the southern section of Highbury Fields, behind the leisure centre and playground in September.

But people living near the park are concerned that the event could result in anti-social behaviour, a loss of amenities and damage to the park infrastructure. They are also worried about the proximity of the event to the children’s playground.

Danny Michelson, who has lived in the area for 22 years, has now written to the council urging them to refer the application to the council’s licensing committee.

“The event should either be cancelled altogether or held elsewhere in Islington at a more suitable location,” Mr Michelson, 72, told the Gazette.

Former Highbury Liberal Democrat councillor Terry Stacy accused the council of exploiting the park to make money.

“The Council seems to be putting profit before parks with this application,” he said. “It has a £400k target for income from events in the boroughs parks.

“This particular event will be a nightmare for residents who live around the park as well as for other park users. We will see open-air bars and food stalls, a large section of the park fenced off adjoining the children’s play area, and nearly 2,000 people a night going in and out of the site at all hours.”

While the council would not comment on the application itself, a spokesman said: “Islington Council faces big ongoing budget cuts from central government, which put significant financial pressure on council services.

“Staging a number of events in Islington parks helps to pay for park-keeping and maintenance all year round.”

He added that the parks team always consults with the licensing team to ensure that all events are safe and will cause minimal disruption.

Cass Briggs, whose company 57 Festivals is organising the festival, told the Gazette: “We welcome all the submissions from residents in Highbury Fields regarding our plans to bring the new Laughterama event to the area.

“The application process is ongoing, and we look forward to working with residents to create what we are sure will be a wonderful event.”

In a letter sent to residents living around Highbury Fields, 57 Festivals said they were working closely with the council and local police and that guidelines would be followed to ensure “the least possible disturbance to local residents”.


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