Exclusive figures show extent to which London councils are using parks for ticketed music festivals such as Wireless to plug budget gaps
As chugging guitars reverberated over Finsbury Park last Sunday afternoon, crowds streamed through the Manor House gate past a banner commemorating the parks 150th anniversary. Next to it was another temporary sign: Welcome! Your park is open as usual. The statement was at best disingenuous the gates were certainly open, and so were many of the facilities, but it rather overlooked the 49,000-capacity festival surrounded by 12-foot-high grey metal fencing and audible a mile away.
The festival was called Community, but at 50 a ticket, and with a narrow lineup of indie rock, its not that kind of community festival. Outside the perimeter fencing a father and two children on their bikes took advice from security staff in hi-vis jackets on where they were still able to cycle, and when the fencing would come down.
In Blurs 1994 single, it was all the people who went hand-in-hand through their parklife. In 2019 London, we should be so lucky. The rapid rise of city-based summer music festivals has become the latest fight in the attritional war over the privatisation of public space, which now includes the question of who has the right to use Londons parks in the warmest months of the year.
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