Finsbury Park

After the festival: Finsbury Park. Photograph: Jeremy Llewellyn-Jones

Disruption caused by last weekend’s Wireless Festival, held in Finsbury Park, has led to an outcry from local residents.

Led by campaign group Friends of Finsbury Park, images have begun to circulate on social media of the damaged grass in the park.

This comes after complaints about issues of noise, unruliness on the surrounding streets and a hostile atmosphere for local families.

Speaking to the Hackney Citizen, Tom Palin, chairperson of the Friends, said, “The initial impact is clear – Wireless has been a damage to the park. It’s agonising to see. Areas of lush green grass have been turned into a muddy mess. Deep tyre tracks scar the fields.

“Contractors work unattended and don’t seem to care about the destruction they are causing. All reassurances have come to nothing – Haringey Council can’t control it anymore.”

Palin said over 50 people had been in touch to complain about the festival via ‘My Wireless Experience’, a platform the Friends set up to gauge the local sentiment.

“Many reported unacceptable noise from the festival. Some reported the unusually loud bass actually caused shaking of buildings, like an earth tremor. At the end of each day a police helicopter could be heard hovering for up to an hour, keeping already tired residents awake.”

The group also received many reports of antisocial behaviour, with open drug-dealing, detritus from nitrous oxide balloons, bags being hidden in residents’ gardens, and attendees urinating and defecating in front gardens despite the added toilet provision.

Though areas of the park do remain open to the public over the weekend, one person remarked that it didn’t matter as “You don’t want to go there anyway”.

Friends of Finsbury Park took legal action against Haringey Council after the damage inflicted by Wireless last year. The organisation is currently getting ready to appeal the court ruling that allowed the festival to go ahead.

The feedback is not negative across the board however, with some Twitter users expressing their surprise when they were unable to hear Wireless in spite of being right next to Finsbury Park. Others pointed out that it was hardly as though the grass wouldn’t grow back.

This is part of an ongoing debate regarding commercial use of public green spaces around the capital, with Stoke Newington residents having made complaints about the noise from DayMer Festival in Clissold Park earlier this month.

In a public meeting this week the group Clissold Park Users expressed their solidarity with Friends of Finsbury Park’s ongoing legal battle about oversized park events.

Haringey Council has previously defended the decision to hold Wireless Festival at Finsbury Park, with Cllr Peray Ahmet saying, “Events like Wireless make a huge contribution to London’s cultural scene and in Haringey bring in hundreds of thousands of pounds which is spent improving our parks and attracting more visitors.”

With public parks at risk from cuts to local authority budgets, earlier this week the Communities and Local Government Committee launched an inquiry into the future of these spaces.

Campaigners hope the inquiry might put an end to councils easing the financial burden of cuts by having to rely on big, disruptive events like festivals in local parks.

Both Wireless organiser Festival Republic and Haringey Council were asked for comment but had not responded at the time of publication.

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