The Friends of Battersea Park sent the following letter to Wandsworth Borough Council (WBC) on 15th September 2014.
Proposal for Formula E Motor Racing in Battersea Park on 27 June 2015
Thank you (WBC staff) for meeting Elizabeth Hood, John Marsh and me on 10 September to discuss Formula E (FE) motor racing in the Park. These comments are based on information supplied by you and others at various meetings. The only information we have in writing is the map of the proposed track sent to me on 30 August.
The Friends of Battersea Park was set up in 1988 to help maintain and improve the Park as an oasis of tranquillity, natural beauty and recreation. We have always accepted that there should be some events in the Park because they are enjoyed by many people. However, the Friends and the Council both recognise that a balance must be struck between such events and maintaining a peaceful atmosphere in the Park.
It is impossible to see a day of practice motor races, qualifying races and the race itself, using all four carriageways, with a 12 day set up and a 6 day take down, as remotely compatible with preserving the tranquillity of the Park. There would have to be a cumbersome process of erecting ugly barriers around the carriageways as well as stands, stages, marquees and screens. There would be alterations to the fabric of the Park. Most critical of all, unless it is possible to open some areas of the Park to non-ticket holders which we doubt, the public would be excluded on what would normally be an exceptionally busy Saturday in June.
We understand and applaud the innovative nature of FE racing. We also recognise that technical improvements honed for FE should filter down to the conventional car market with benefits for the environment. We have no doubts about the professionalism of those behind FE, or Innovision if it is selected as FE’s events manager. However, the disruption in the Park and for Park users is unacceptable, especially when FE would be between the considerable disturbances of the Chelsea Flower Show and the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge.
We therefore strongly object to the proposal to allow FE motor racing in the Park on 27 June 2015 and for four further years under a five year contract.
We are also disconcerted and strongly opposed to your suggestion that this might even be a two day event. A second ticketed day of racing with the public excluded from the Park would be totally unacceptable. However, if the public were allowed into the Park to see the cars and a limited number of stalls were still open, that could be a different matter.
If, in spite of our objections, the Council decides to go ahead, it is essential that:
- The Council, FE and others are satisfied that it is safe to hold such an event in the Park in the light of the Beijing crash;
- there is absolutely no commitment to repeat in subsequent years something that proves unsafe or unacceptably disruptive or damaging in the first or any subsequent year;
- the Council and Wandsworth ratepayers are very, very significantly rewarded using a formula which will capitalise on success e.g. £xm plus y% of television rights plus z% of merchandising sales etc;
- all the Council’s legal costs and staff costs are covered separately;
- at least 25% of receipts is spent directly on the Park with no reduction in the Council’s budget for capital expenditure or running costs;
- in recognition of potential disruption to the wider community, a further 5% of receipts should be spent on other parks and open spaces in the borough;
- any damage is put right by FE at FE’s expense to a timetable and standard set out by Park Management in remedial notices. Failure to comply with a remedial notice should result in fines and possible termination of the contract;
- key performance indicators for FE are identified. Failure by FE to meet requirements should result in fines and possible termination of the contract;
- the Council can terminate the contract if there are severe difficulties outside the Council’s control e.g. traffic chaos, security threats or safety issues which may only become apparent once the event has been run;
- any dispute between the Council and FE should be subject to binding arbitration by an independent person appointed jointly or by a body such as the Law Society. The arbitrator should report within 14 days;
- the Park is shut only from 10.30pm on Friday 26 June to 7pm on Saturday 27 June: local people must be allowed back into the Park on Saturday evening and on Sunday even if certain areas are cordoned off;
- set up and take down periods are as short as possible. Work should not begin before Monday 15 June and everything should be cleared away by Friday 3 July to avoid disrupting the preceding and following weekends. Night working should be allowed to minimise disruption in daylight hours;
- work is carefully scheduled so that intrusive items such as barriers round the carriageways are put in as late as possible. Small areas should be cordoned off successively so that as much of the Park as possible remains open to the public;
- free tickets are given to local schools and charities;
- strict controls are placed on when and where music can played and decibel levels to avoid disturbing local residents.
- parking for local residents remains available and there is a well thought out traffic management plan.
- there is significant focus on increasing awareness of sustainability especially amongst young people, in innovative and interesting ways; this might include an exhibition in the Pump House for four weeks funded by FE.
In summary, we do not want to see FE racing in the Park, but if it goes ahead, we would like to work with the Council to minimise adverse effects. We urgently need more information, especially about your suggestion that there might be a second day. We look forward to seeing the Heritage Impact Assessment. We would also want to see very significant benefits for the Park in terms of completing the attached list of work.