The following letter was sent from the Friends to Wandsworth Borough Council on 3rd Dec 2014.
FAO: THE COMMUNITY SERVICES OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
Re: The proposed Formula E Races in Battersea Park
As you know, it is the view of many Friends of Battersea Park that it is entirely wrong to allow Formula E races in Battersea Park. The tranquillity of the Park will be greatly disturbed for almost three weeks, falling between the disruptions of the Chelsea Flower Show and the J P Morgan Chase. The potential for damage to the fabric of the Park and its trees is high. Moreover, the public are likely to be totally excluded, or confined to a small area, on what would normally be one of the busiest weekends in June and for two days thereafter.
All Friends are united in wishing to see strict conditions imposed on the organisers if the races are to go ahead.
The Friends are pleased to note:
- The planned implementation of the mitigation measures recommended in the HIA and by the HLF
- The clear statements that FE will be responsible for rectifying any damage to the Park and the cost of an expert to monitor damage and to ensure satisfactory repairs and restoration. Will the expert’s findings and recommendations be made public?
- The protection for the interests of operators of concessions in the Park
- The break clauses in the contract
- The provision of 2,000 free tickets for each event which we recommend should be used to involve local children in the event and its sustainability values.
However, the Friends have a number of questions and concerns and we request that these are fully considered before any recommendation to proceed is made:
- We are disappointed that the proposal is that only £1m is re-invested in the Park over the whole five years. Without knowing the total amount that the Council will receive from the organisers, it is hard to put forward a logical argument for what we consider should be re-invested but, in our previous submission, we had stated that we believed it appropriate that 25% of the Council receipts should be re-invested in the Park. A sum of £200,000 per year is insufficient compensation for the disruption, potential damage and closure of the Park. Can the amount be increased significantly?
- Can the Council give an assurance that the re-investment fund for the Park will be additional capital investment for the Park and will not replace the normal capital spending on the Park or be used to fund regular maintenance and other operations? Can the Council also give an assurance that the Council will consider the recommendations of the Friends when deciding which projects should be supported by the fund?
- The Friends are extremely disappointed that the Park might be closed for four full days for the races and the initial de-rig and will not open until around 8.30am on the Friday before the race. Can further consideration be given to opening at least part or parts of the Park on the Saturday and Sunday evenings, from say 7pm which we understand will be two hours after the main race has finished? Can the de-rig be phased to allow parts of the Park to be open at all times on the Monday & Tuesday?
- We expected the contract to contain a binding arbitration clause so that potentially lengthy and expensive legal cases are avoided. Can the Council take further advice on this please?
- We were advised on 28 November that no tree surgery would be required other than that following the normal comprehensive checks for branches that might fall off. However, the HIA refers to some lifting of canopies. If any further tree surgery or other changes to the Park are, in the event, required, can we have an assurance that they will be referred, in advance, to the expert appointed to monitor damage to the Park and do not take place without approval by the expert and that a public record is maintained of such changes?
- No reference is made to a number of issues that have been discussed. Can we be assured that these will be addressed within the Council and form part of the potential agreement with FE? The issues are:
- The need for a comprehensive traffic management plan to ensure that local residents and visitors who are not engaged in the race are not unduly inconvenienced
- The desirability for ensuring that as much as possible of the work and traffic movements for the build and de-rig are carried out at night so that visitors can continue to enjoy the Park and that traffic movements should, wherever possible, take place through the Chelsea Gate
- The commitment by FE to minimise loud music before and during the races. We have no objections to bands on the bandstand and in other areas provided they are not amplified to such an extent that they will annoy residents who live around the Park.
- Whether the Council should also receive a share of returns to FE from merchandising.
We trust that The Community Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee will give thought to ensuring that any recommendation to the Council Executive includes provisions on these points.