Friends of Finsbury Park (FoFP) campaigners are launching a fundraising drive to protect parks across London from “commercial over-exploitation”.
The campaign group has been granted an appeal after its legal bid to ban Wireless Festival from Finsbury Park was thrown out by the High Court last year.
But FoFP is broadening its fight to take on not only Haringey, but all London boroughs that hire out public parks for private events.
Campaigner Tom Palin said: “The legal action is not about banning events in the park outright. If we win the appeal, the ruling will not ban commercial events, but it will restrict the number of days of events, and the size of events, to a level that is sustainable and continues to preserve London parks as areas of tranquillity and natural beauty, free and open to all.”
Palin said the outcome will have “legal ramifications for every local authority public park across our capital”.
He explained: “It will decide whether parks will be protected for local communities against commercial over-exploitation, or given away indefinitely for local authorities to hire out to whoever they want, for however long, regardless of its condition or the customer.”
FoFP is being supported by the Open Spaces Society (OSS), Britain’s oldest national conservation body, which has been given permission to intervene on the campaign’s behalf during the court proceedings.
OSS trustee John Lavery said: “It is vital, for all Londoners who care about their open spaces that this appeal proceeds and is won, otherwise London boroughs will have carte blanche to give their parks and open spaces over to commercial interests for much of the year, barring residents from enjoyment of their open spaces for extended periods. That would be a very dark day for all Londoners.”
Simon Hunt, chair of FoFP, emphasised the value of parks in tackling pollution and helping improve people’s fitness and mental health.
He said it was “vital that we guarantee the future of all of London’s major parks and open spaces”, adding: “I believe that this legal precedent will help secure that future. If London’s parks are open, then London is open.”
Haringey Council said after last year’s ruling that Wireless Festival had helped fund £400,000 worth of improvements to Finsbury Park.
The council’s environment chief Cllr Peray Ahmet also defended Wireless and events like it, arguing they “make a huge contribution to London’s cultural scene”.
Last month, Haggerston Park campaigners celebrated victory after Winterville organisers withdrew their planning application to hold the festival in Hackney./ 11 October, 2017