UPDATE: as we predicted the inevitable backlash has begun. Not from the Backheath Society, but instead from other ‘concerned local residents’ and, surprisingly, the Metropolitan Police. Here’s a flavour of the objections. Low-lights include anger at the prospect of “the task of cleaning up sick and ‘other’ from my front garden” and the apparently genuine objection that “our peace was disturbed two years ago in 2012 by the Olympics in Greenwich Park. We need our green space.”. Words fail even we Radicals.
You wait years for a festival and then two get (in principle) approval at once. Lewisham Council has given the green light to both the OnBlackheath music festival, scheduled for weekend of 13th/14th September and the GoodHope arts and music festivals, which is raising money for the Jimmy Mizen Foundation, scheduled for weekend of 2nd/3rd August.
What to do? Embrace it: dig out the tent, wellington boots and glow-sticks and ‘ave it large (is that right?) with the kidz? Or bunker-down: buy some ear-plugs, black-out the windows, stock-up on cheese and sherry and listen to Radio 3 on loop? Actually, that sounds like a fun weekend! But really, it will come as no surprise to hear that we Radicals intend very much to embrace both events (though we’ll spare you the glow-sticks) and congratulate Lewisham on its decisions in the face of inevitable opposition.
@ThomasFTurrell provides a good read-out of the discussion this week at the Blackheath Joint Working Party public meeting. Looks like a lot of standard blowing-off about traffic, grass, noise and the like from the usual suspects. That said, we would share concerns about the due process being followed in consulting residents, though suspect this is really just another excuse to try to stop the events.
So what is the positive case for these events happening? How about:
(1) they will help to showcase the village and should encourage local business to be involved and advertise their wares. Unless the village’s businesses have custom they will ALL become estate agents and won’t that be fun?
(2) undoubtedly the @GoodHope festival is in a good cause
(3) there’s a clear commitment to limiting environmental impact – not everyone lives in leafy suburbs and has a car. Most will come by public transport rather than drive.
(4) there’ll be work experience opportunities for youngsters
(5) most importantly, they’ll be a lot of fun!
Perhaps less positively, but nonetheless worthy of note, is the fact that there are plenty of other – arguably less beneficial – events on the heath that cause ‘disruption’ and that make large parts of it inaccessible e.g. the marathon, charity runs, naff fun-fairs etc.
So well done Lewisham Council – stick with if there’s further resistance (e.g. at the licensing committee hearing, 19.15 12th March). We don’t understand need to have data on the demographics, plus postcodes, of those who attend (one of the council’s conditions) but hey – let’s discuss it over a beer and hot-dog at one of the events. And for those non-Radical residents who are still concerned, our advice is to have another sherry and just think – what’s the worst that can happen…?