IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

‘Noisy’ music events in park are granted an encore

Licensing review rules that Wireless festival and gigs can continue, after neighbours had called for action to curb disturbance

26 October, 2018 — By Emily Finch

The Wireless festival looks set to continue in Finsbury Park

FROM Bob Dylan to Oasis and the Arctic Monkeys, some of the biggest names in music have pitched up to perform at Finsbury Park over the years.

Legend has it that at one famous concert Madness caused a minor earthquake when thousands of fans simultaneously jumped up and down on the grass in 1992.

And this week, after a see-saw licensing battle, councillors ruled that large-scale music events can continue to be staged in the park, as long as new conditions are met.

The verdict follows complaints that festival events cause a public nuisance and give rise to crime and disorder.

At a licence review, three councillors in neighbouring Haringey spent two evenings listening to representations from those for and against the annual Wireless festival, which sees grime musicians and hip-hop acts perform at the 110-acre park.

It borders Islington and Hackney but is managed by Haringey Council, which has earned £1.3million by licensing events in the park this year.

Event organisers Live Nation, who also hosted Liam Gallagher and Queens of the Stone Age in the park over the summer, were handed an 18-page document of conditions after being told their licence would not be revoked.

The new stipulations were described as a “tightening” of conditions for next year’s festival. Licensing chiefs agreed to stricter noise conditions because the loud music, including bass levels, has caused “public nuisance”, they said. An additional noise-monitoring location will also be set up in Islington.

Residents and Friends of Finsbury Park members outside Haringey Civic Centre, where the hearing was held

The next Wireless festival will also close at 10pm, 30 minutes earlier than this year, on Sundays. The committee also called for “consideration of the use of private security dogs at the entrances” but disagreed with the community group, Friends of Finsbury Park, that the festival had led to an increase in disorder.

Simon Hunt, the chairman of the Friends group, said: “We are in the process of consulting our legal advisers on whether or not to appeal the decision at the magistrates court.”

He said the group were “pleased” about the new noise conditions and added: “We welcome the decision of the committee to incorporate our proposed noise limits and noise-monitoring conditions.”

Other members of the Friends group labelled the council’s decision “out of step” with what residents want from the park. Martin Ball, a member of the Friends management committee, said:

“The decision is contemptuous of the many concerns raised by residents of the three boroughs affected by the mega event and is a callous dismissal of their suffering during the Wireless weekend.”

Live Nation did not respond when contacted by the Tribune yesterday (Thursday).

As previously reported, Islington Council had withdrawn their own representations to Haringey on the first day of the review in exchange for new conditions and amendments to the current conditions, all accepted by the festival promoters.

Councillor Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Islington’s cabinet member for community development, said: “I welcome the decision of Haringey’s licensing committee to add the 26 conditions to Live Nation’s licence that we asked for. I fully appreciate the impact that previous events have had on Islington residents in the past few years. I am committed to working closely with the community, our councillors and officers, and those in Hackney and Haringey to monitor next year’s events and how they are run.”

She added: “I expect to see major improvements thanks to the new conditions imposed. The leader of the council and I also intend to meet with residents as soon as we can to start preparations before next year.”

The Friends of Finsbury Park are expected to decide whether to appeal the decision at a Magistrates court next week.

Swear ban? Performers always told to mind their language

THERE has been widespread criticism of Haringey Council after it was reported that performers had been banned from swearing at large-scale music events in Finsbury Park following the review, writes Emily Finch.

The licensing committee heard from a handful of residents at last week’s review session at Haringey Civic Centre who were concerned that children were overhearing expletives used by performers.

But the condition handed to Live Nation that “the licensee shall reasonably request that performers do not sing or play any vulgar, obscene or banned songs or carry out indecent acts or make any vulgar gestures, actions or remarks during the performance” was already in place from previous years.

In their decision released to the public on Monday, the committee said the condition “could be worded more clearly so as to encourage artists not to use expletives”.

They added 14 words to the already existing conditions that vulgar actions should not be carried out by musicians while using a microphone. The condition that “[the licensee] shall also ensure that the attire of the performers do not offend the general public, e.g. attire which exposes the groin, private parts, buttock or female breasts’” was also already in place.

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