The chair of the Friends of Trent Country Park, Peter Gibbs, has heard enough of the council’s excuses
Why does Enfield Council insist on hosting major events at Trent Country Park attended by 25,000 footloose revellers?
The park is not set up to handle such events safely without there being an impact on visitors and neighbouring residents. The council’s record of allowing such events to be held there in recent years – including last month – is bleak.
The Friends of Trent Country Park and Cockfosters residents in general have had to put up with this annual invasion for six years now. This year two large festivals were planned on two different weekends in August; 51st State (7th-8th) and Elrow Town (21st-22nd).
During the staging of 51st State Festival the 200-year-old, Grade 2-listed gateway to the park, in Cockfosters Road, was badly damaged. This was the third time this has happened in recent years, and it is caused by festival organisers who continue to insist on using massive twelve-wheeler trucks to deliver their equipment. The council is apparently too weak to tell them to stop doing it.
In addition to this damage, one of the flat, grassy areas within the park that many visitors use for family picnics and games became a sea of mud, because the festival promoter did not lay down sufficient protection. Again, the council apparently did not insist on sufficient safeguards.
If these basics are so poorly managed, what can we expect of other issues such as safety, crowd control, prevention of anti-social behaviour, drug dealing, congestion, or transport? How assured can we feel about these?
The council still sets aside all of August for promoters to build their stages and palisades to support each event. During this time, at the height of summer, free access to the ‘core area’ of these events is denied to visitors of Trent Park. The council instead invites families to push their buggies over tree roots, through the woods, or around the bushes elsewhere.
Recriminations are flying. The council stated the damage following 51st State Festival was “beyond anything we would expect to see” and announced the cancellation of the second of August’s large events, Elrow Town Festival, stating it was “in discussions with the organisers of the previous event [51st State] and will take all necessary steps to ensure the grounds are returned to their previous condition” before admitting that “this remedial work will take some time to complete”.
The council also insists it has “robust and stringent standards and measures which all organisers have to abide by” – but do they actually care a jot? All we hear is that events are the responsibility of promoters, not the council. Really? On public land?
A large section of Whitewebbs Park is now set to be leased to Tottenham Hotspur FC, with its public golf course already closed. It shows a pattern of commercialisation of open space in Enfield that does not benefit the 330,000+ residents of the borough.
We want this changed. We want the council’s leadership to recognise that its policies are counter-productive, unsustainable and harmful, that there is nothing beneficial to show the people of Enfield in return for its loss of amenity. After six years we reckon we’ve waited long enough.