Residents in Addington Village are filing lengthy objections to a licence application which, if the council allows, could see more than 11,000 festival-goers descend on a Croydon conservation area for a “mini Glastonbury” over a single weekend in August.
But some say that objectors are being put off lodging their complaints to the application because the council will pass on their details – including their names and addresses – to the company applying for the licence or the festival organisers, Garage Nation.
The licence application is for “Supply of Alcohol, Provision of Films, Live Music, Recorded Music, Performance of Dance, and Provision of anything of similar description to live music, recorded music or performance of dance,” and has been submitted by Butterfly Enterprise Ltd, a new company with no previous trading history. The application is for two days, August 14 and 15.
Well-known festival organisers Garage Nation are selling tickets online for an event which has yet to be granted a licence. Tickets for both days can cost a total of £72.
“The location of the proposed music festival is completely unsuitable, especially as it has recently been awarded conservation area status alongside Addington Village itself,” one resident told Inside Croydon.
Only covid-19 prevented a large-scale event being staged in Addington Park in June last year. Then, Garage Nation started selling tickets for that event back in December 2019, and long before the council, as the licensing authority, had granted approval.
There was more than a sense of it all being a done-deal, regardless of what local residents, or the police, might have to say about the matter. Croydon’s cash-strapped council would, of course, have received a hefty cheque from the promoters for the use of the park.
The council slipped its own licensing application, for staging of events and the sale of alcohol in Addington Park and the Purley Way playing fields, through on the quiet last September. The matter was never raised, explained nor discussed at any public council meetings, and councillors for the wards concerned – both Labour and Conservative – were never consulted directly.
Phone calls from councillors to the council’s licensing office, seeking more information, went unanswered. Emails received no reply.
Some councillors described council officials’ actions over their licence as “underhand behaviour”.
Croydon has staged music festivals and other large-scale events before, but usually in Lloyd Park, which is larger, is closer to the town centre, has better public transport links and is further removed from residential areas than Addington Park. It is also not in a counci-designated conservation area.
Last year, the first that the Addington Village Residents’ Association knew about the proposed festival was when they were contacted by the Metropolitan Police, who were seeking their support as they expressed reservations over the Garage Nation event.
“The potential for organised drug gangs was a big factor,” the resident stated.
Policing such events has obvious budget and staffing issues for the Met, who were firmly against the festival last year. In 2021, they have told residents that with current resources, they would be unable to control the expected crowds and would need to rely on assistance from outside the borough.
Addington residents fear that the trams will be overwhelmed by the volume of festival-goers. “It would take at least 24 trams – over the course of six hours, from the 10pm finish of the concert until 4am – for so many people to vacate the area,” said one.
“That’s a sure recipe for unrest and safety issues, given some people will have been drinking for hours on end.”
The Garage Nation website recommends their customers to take the tram. “Trams are the best way to get to Addington Park… We suggest the tram as a preferred way to travel as it’s easier and located very close to the festival site.”
Locals are also concerned by Garage Nation’s track record. In 2018, four men suffered stab wounds during a fight in the VIP area at a Garage Nation-organised festival in Hainault Forest Country Park. Two needed to be airlifted to hospital, with one said to have suffered “life-changing injuries”.
But perhaps most insidiously of all is the council’s demand for full disclosure of the name and address of anyone lodging an objection to the application. “For whatever reason they also seem intent on supplying these details to the applicant,” said one resident.
“At first sight this would appear to be a breach of GDPR rules but, in any case, it opens up the real possibility of intimidation from parties unknown.” For any objection lodged without name and address, the council says it will disregard the complaint.
Robert Ward, one of the councillors for Addington Village, said today, “Residents have well-founded concerns on such a large event being held in a designated conservation area.
“Moving so many people safely out of the area at the end of each day, police and security coordination and the clearing of litter both inside and outside the park must be addressed when this application comes before the licensing committee.
“Croydon Council and local residents must not be left with a bill to clean up and repair damage to this important heritage site.”
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- The deadline for representations is midnight on June 1, next Tuesday.
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Good grief, I used to see complaints like this when I was licensing music events for the Greater London Council in the 1970s. They nearly always turned out to be unjustified. Parks and open spaces should be enjoyed by all, not just the privileged few who live nearby. The details of this one need to be checked and in particular arrangements for getting people to and from the venue. But in principle it should be welcomed.
There is certainly a difference of view between the Boomers and the Millenials on this, David.
But unlike when the GLC was licensing events, with Croydon there appears to be a wide range of concerns over whether they have all the necessary checks and controls in place, or even whether the officials in the licensing department are answerable to elected councillors. Even perfunctory checks of the businesses behind the proposed event throw up some serious concerns.
Many of the ‘privileged few’ have come from that great community of New Addington to live in The Village and joined in with the diversity of other ‘down to earth’ residents who know the difference between what’s right and what’s wrong. A bit like Hartlepool residents.
I’m totally up for this if residents are given some kind of ticket discount?
I had a second garage in my garden turned down by Croydon Planners and yet Garage Nation can play in Addington Park.
Even I can see the beauty of the sublime symmetry in this.
Large scale events in Lloyd Park have also caused problems. It has a deer population, and the last time a music festival took place there, deer were driven out onto the roads, the golf course and into nearby gardens. A deer was trapped in my garden and caused hundreds of pounds worth of damage. These events really shouldn’t be held in built-up areas.
The pilot festival in Liverpool for 5,000 people in Sefton Park went well, even though it was in the middle of a heavily built up area. The key appears to be excellent site management and organisation. Provided these operators can demonstrate they can deliver the same then there’s no reason it shouldn’t go ahead.
We need to bear in mind that during the Covid19 crisis, the performing arts of all kinds have been hit very hard.
My take on events like this is that as long as the site is big enough, well-fenced, well-marshalled and policed, well-serviced with loos and food , and is forensically litter picked afterwards (an aside here–why do people drop their litter and not do the responsible thing–take your litter home? )… it should be OK.
Let people enjoy the get together, the relaxation, and party mood, while listening to live music!
The problem arises when events happen week in, week out, such as they did at Hyde Park.
Parks in the years before Covid. Noise impact on neighbours . The grass gets worn out, with soil compaction, mud (or dust) depending on weather and season. Rubbish (and worse?) in the shrubberies.
Also, depriving the general public of their park.
I had not thought about the impact on deer! Poor deer.
As usual, a case of balance.