Lib Dems appeal to Labour Lambeth councillor responsible for Lovebox and Field Day

This letter was sent to Lambeth council Cabinet member Cllr Sonia Winifred, who will decide on whether the 40,000 capacity Lovebox and the 37,000 Field Day events can take place in Brockwell Park this summer.

Dear Councillor Winifred,

Following the public meeting in Herne Hill on 18 January, we are writing to you to express our deep concern about the applications to hold the Field Day and Lovebox festivals in Brockwell Park this summer.

In brief, our position is this:

  • Neither Field Day, Lovebox nor Lambeth Council provided reassurance that the events do not pose a considerable risk to the park.
  • Both applications should be rejected.
  • We call for a moratorium on new proposals, including the present ones, for commercial events in Brockwell Park for 2018.
  • There needs to be full, proper and publicised consultation with residents on the nature of these events.
  • The consultation process has been poorly handled and has led to division rather than community dialogue.
  • There should be core funding for parks; aggressive threats to the future of both Brockwell Park and the Lambeth Country Show should cease.
  • Urgent repairs to the park should be carried out without delay.
  • If elected on 3 May we will use any influence we have to cancel any contract Labour makes with the promoters.

The plans presented on Thursday, which added only limited insight to the existing knowledge, did very little to reassure that these events can take place without the prospect of considerable damage to the park’s environment, infrastructure and wildlife, and huge inconvenience to local residents. There is a lack of research, planning and due diligence and it is clear that the promoters have not based their applications on worked up knowledge of the park in which they hope to hold their festival.

In this circumstance, it is hard to see that there is any responsible response other than to reject the applications. We would ask that you put in place a moratorium on new commercial events in Brockwell Park for 2018. This would protect the Park from any adverse consequences due to the lack of preparation by the current, or any further prospective, applicants and allow time for proper discussion about how events can be made to work in the future.

It seems clear now that Labour’s plans for commercial events in the borough’s parks are far more extensive than residents had previously been given to expect. In light of that we would suggest that the co-operative way forward is to hold a properly funded public consultation to ascertain the vision and detail of what kind of events will be sustainable and acceptable to Lambeth residents. The poor level of consultation so far has led to divisiveness within the community; you have both failed to hear concerns about the impact on the park and residents, whilst not facilitating any meaningful debate about why events should take place and what form they might take. It was particularly saddening that a group of young members of the community, who chose to participate in public debate, were shouted down on Thursday night; a better process would have led to a less pressured atmosphere, with everyone less desperate to get their point across, and better dialogue.

The manner in which both Labour and the promoters have linked the future of the park and continuation of the Lambeth Country Show as being co-dependent with income from these festivals is an aggressive threat that is being held over residents. We feel strongly that this line of argument should be taken off the table.

Labour uses the issue of central government cuts repeatedly as an excuse for a lack of service to the residents of our borough. Yet we note that when it comes to spending £100m on a new town hall for councillors, concerns about the budget seem not to be a problem. If the parks are used for this purpose then we must have a guarantee of serious long-term investment in our valued parks, and Brockwell Park in particular. In the meantime, as a matter of urgency, you should commit to undertaking any necessary repairs to the children’s playground, sports and other facilities within the park, and to restore all the public toilet blocks (including that in the children’s playground) to full working order.

Obviously there is a Council election between this decision being made and the festivals taking place. The Lambeth Liberal Democrats have already written to the Chief Executive of the Council to communicate that if elected on 3 May we will use any influence we have to cancel any contract Labour makes with the promoters 

We hope you will give consideration to these views, which have been formed after listening carefully to the views of the community in Herne Hill, West Dulwich, Brixton, Tulse Hill and West Norwood.

Yours sincerely,

Doug Buist, Kathy Erasmus & Bryan Mahon

Liberal Democrat candidates for Thurlow Park ward


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