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Finsbury Park festival organisers launch late appeal

Live Nation challenge licence review sparked by neighbours’ concerns over loud music and anti-social behaviour at Wireless

16 November, 2018 — By Emily Finch

The Wireless festival attracts thousands of music fans to Finsbury Park every year

AN eleventh-hour appeal by the organisers of the Wireless music festival has plunged the future of Finsbury Park into uncertainty.

Hundreds of thousands of revellers visited the 110-acre park, which borders Islington but is managed by Haringey Council, over the summer when it hosted a series of superstar musicians.

Community group the Friends of Finsbury Park prompted a review after calling for Haringey to revoke the festival promoter’s licence last month citing issues around loud music and anti-social behaviour stemming from Wireless.

Dozens of Islington residents travelled to Haringey Council’s Civic Centre to voice their anger with one saying the street she lives in becomes a “war zone” during the annual festival in July.

Following a marathon session over two nights, a panel of three Haringey councillors ruled that promoter Live Nation could still hold events but there would be a “tightening” of conditions for next year’s festival.

But Live Nation submitted an appeal against the decision at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court on Monday – the last possible day an appeal was eligible.

Simon Hunt, chairman of the Friends of Finsbury Park, said: “We want the council to defend their position or everything goes back to normal. We don’t want this to happen.”

A spokeswoman from Haringey Council said they had not yet decided whether to defend their licensing committee’s decision yesterday (Thursday).

The Friends group had previously welcomed the new conditions which will see a new noise-monitoring location in Islington during Wireless and stricter noise conditions which includes a maximum low-frequency noise level.

The festival will also close half-an-hour earlier on the Sunday at 10pm which councillors deemed to be “an appropriate balance” for those enjoying the music and residents who have to go to work or school the next day.

The new conditions also call for “plastic-free paper cups” to be used to distribute water to visitors and the “consideration of the use of private security dogs at the entrances”.

The exact reasons for Live Nation’s appeal has not yet been released to the public but the ­Tribune understands it is connected to the Sunday closing hours and new noise conditions.

Mr Hunt added: “I am surprised they decided to appeal. This is a legal change which originated from the community. If Haringey do not defend their position there will be a big backlash from the community, local MPs and some councillors.”

Clive Carter, a trustee of the Friends group, said they were ready to “stand shoulder to shoulder with the council in any defence of the licensing committee decision”.

Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn wrote a letter to Haringey Council leader Cllr Joseph Ejiofor in the summer saying he was “increasingly concerned” about the festivals.

No Islington councillors gave evidence and a document highlighting Islington’s concerns over the festival was dramatically withdrawn after Live Nation agreed to four new conditions ahead of the meeting.

If Haringey lose their case against Live Nation they could be ordered to cover their costs by the court.

Haringey councillors said they were unable to comment because of purdah – a by-election will take place next month following the resignation of Ishmael Osamor after he was found with drugs at the Bestival music festival in the Isle of Wight.

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