Every year the programme of concerts in Hyde Park provokes a string of emails and letters to me from residents disturbed by noise and general disruption.
In this Olympic year, the number of events has increased and their impact, added to dreadful summer weather, has given our glorious Park a pummelling.
Last summer, I tabled a debate in the House of Commons to outline my concerns about commercialisation of the Parks, set out my opposition to the transfer to the Mayor and alert the Minister to worries raised with me about the Olympic schedule. This was in part because of the increased number of complaints I had received about concerts in Hyde Park.
You can read the transcript of my speech for your information by clicking here . My speech refers specifically to the LiveNation programme put in place for the Olympic summer and raises many of the concerns outlined by residents.
The debate was successful in helping to stop the transfer to the Mayor. Instead the Parks are now managed by a new board which includes representation from the GLA but also stronger local representation to ensure issues such as noise, litter and disruption are better dealt with. As a result of this increased engagement, there was an urgent meeting last week to address residents’ associations’ anger about the impact of this season’s concerns.
In terms of the damage that was done recently following the combination of rain with the Wireless festival, I wrote to the Royal Parks to raise my worries about the restoration of Hyde Park. I received last week the email below.
I also supported Westminster City Council in its action this weekend to shut down the Hard Rock Calling concert as an important reminder of the impact such events have on the local population.
Currently the concert site is undergoing remedial work to create a more stable top surface, making it safe to host the remaining concerts and the BT London Live Sites during London 2012. Once the concerts have finished, The Royal Parks will be using its wealth of experience to restore the parks to a high quality. We are not yet able to say what the exact programme of reinstatement work needed will be, but we are actively developing plans to re-turf the area as soon as the site is cleared in the autumn. In recent years we have invested some of the revenue generated from the concerts to improve drainage on the Parade Ground, which has helped the park recover after previous concerts. This year the improved drainage undoubtedly prevented more extensive damage being done to the top surface and other concerts being cancelled. I hope this information is useful. The Royal Park’s Chief Executive, Linda Lennon, is in regular contact with the Park Manager who will lead on the restoration as well as with the Chair of the Local Safety Group and Live Nation.