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Music festival left Finsbury Park neighbours ‘landlocked’

Damning report reveals ‘concerns’ over safe access to three-day Wireless event

10 August, 2018 — By Emily Finch

Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park

A DAMNING Town Hall report has slammed neighbouring Haringey Council for the “unacceptable impact” that a music festival in Finsbury Park had on residents.

Islington Council’s views are revealed in a leaked report to go before Haringey’s licensing committee, who will decide whether to renew the licence for Wireless Festival next summer.

The scathing report compiled by an Islington council officer lists a series of failures during the popular three-day music festival at the park in early July.

The report states that:

• The lack of safe access to the site was “particularly concerning” even more so as two young festival-goers died.

• Road closures saw around 1,000 residents “landlocked” and unable to drive to their homes for hours.

• A resident filmed an ambulance unable to get down a residential street due to additional traffic. It is not known whether this ambulance was heading to or away from the festival or was related to the festival deaths.

• A driver was stranded in his bus for more than three hours due to road closures.
Islington Council had to pay for additional staff to deal with crowds and reassure residents, with Islington police officers having to cope with the many reports of drug taking and dealing without any extra resources.

Long queues to buy alcohol at the festival saw festival-goers binge-drinking once they purchased their booze.

The Islington report circulated on Twitter this week, but has been confirmed as genuine by the council.

It says: “We had concerns following last year’s concerts that the infrastructure and levels of management were insufficient, even for the lower capacity agreed due to the works at Finsbury Park station. However, none of this was taken on board and the maximum capacity was reinstated.”

The licence review, expected in the autumn, was prompted by community group Friends of Finsbury Park.

Martin Ball, of the Friends, said: “The disruption to public use of the park, the damage to the park, the noise of the performers and the uncontrolled behaviour of some attendees all continue to make living near Finsbury Park a dreadful experience during commercial events. The licence review is the only hope of reining in the festival.”

A 20-year-old woman died in hospital after “becoming ill” at the music festival on the Sunday while a 16-year-old died in hospital after he collapsed in Seven Sisters Road following a suspected asthma attack.

The report says Islington Council will withdraw its representations if Haringey listens to its suggested conditions.

It says Haringey must create a crowd management plan to deal with anti-social behaviour and exiting festival-goers.

Islington Council should draft its own traffic management plan if its residential roads are affected, the report says. It calls for an agreed event-day parking zone in Islington residential streets around the park, with costs covered by the licence holder.

Furthermore, a new report should be commissioned into the noise levels at the festival.

A spokeswoman for Haringey Council said: “We understand that some residents have concerns and we have encouraged them to make representations. The dead­line was August 2 and our licensing sub-committee will now consider any necessary action.”

Festival Republic, organisers of Wireless, declined to comment.

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