© Phil Verney

Tower Hamlets Council increases capacity and number of major events allowed in Victoria Park 

Mayor Rahman says that Vicky Park must be used as a source of income to prevent Tower Hamlets following the trend of other local authorities announcing bankruptcy. 

Tower Hamlets Council is expanding the number of major event days at Victoria Park because it needs to make more money despite concerns that it would be ‘detrimental’ to residents and those who regularly use the park.

During a meeting with Tower Hamlets mayor, Lutfur Rahman and his Aspire cabinet last night (November 29), members approved a paper for the number of major event days in the park to increase from 10 to 12 each year.

The move will also see the capacity threshold for these events, including festivals, increase from 5,000 people to 20,000 people.

Mr Rahman said the council had “no choice” but to hire out the park as another way of making an income.

He said: ‘We have to squeeze as much as we can from our assets, from our contracts, from our parks and everything that we do in this borough because we have to protect our residents.

‘We cannot be in the position that other local authorities [have been in] over the last 12 months and [when] we are going through the budget process we have to look at our feasibility charges and we have to look at our opportunities from increasing our income base in this borough.’

He went on to say: ‘We have no choice but to explore all opportunities and we are doing this for Victoria Park whilst we very much want to protect our residents, we want to take advantage of the opportunities that our assets give us.’

However the community group, Victoria Park Friends, which is made up of local residents, have blasted the plans because they believe increasing the size and number of events will have a negative impact on local people and park users.

They said if the number of major events is increased to 12, then Victoria Park would be hosting twice as many events when compared to other London green spaces such as Finsbury Park, Brockwell Park and Crystal Palace Park.

A spokesperson for the group said: ‘Victoria Park Friends believe that increasing the size and frequency of events would be detrimental to both park users and residents.

‘Major events are noisy which causes significant distress to both park users and residents, particularly young children and older people.’

Under the council’s current major events policy, Victoria Park can be hired through the council for up to 10 commercial events, which in the past have included All Points East and Lovebox Festival.

Major events are described as an event that has or is expected to have over 5,000 attendees at any one time. Any council organised events and sporting events such as half marathons are separate to the 10 major event days that are currently part of the council’s policy.

Abdul Wahid, who is Aspire cabinet member for jobs, skills and growth said he welcomed the report because of the amount of people it would bring into the borough.

Cllr Wahid said: ‘I think our parks, especially Victoria Park, is an asset for us and I think utilising these assets… also invites and brings a lot of people to our borough.

‘This also has benefits to the borough as a whole, people will here spending etcetera and seeing the borough as it is, so I think it’s a really good paper and I welcome it.’

Cabinet members then proceeded to agree and approve the report.

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