The organisers of the three day event (12 – 14 July) held their second open evening for residents on Monday 25th March. They made a presentation and answered questions. Despite being an entertainment company, the experience was downbeat, verging on the depressing.
The organisers’ position is that they are very experienced, but that if anything goes wrong, it will be fixed next time they hold the event. A lot went wrong last year, so they are promising a lot of changes this year. What is as yet undecided is whether a more competent organisation would run an event which had less impact on the people who live around the park, or whether 40,000 visitors a night is simply too many for the area, its roads and transport links. Among its many other priorities, Gunnersbury needs to be a good neighbour – the organisers (MAMA) don’t seem to understand how much damage they did last year to Gunnersbury’s reputation and its future.
There were many promises – to improve the stewarding, to improve the communication and administration, to record complaints properly, to clean the entire park afterwards, to publish plans for noise and traffic management.
The presentation is a large document (23 PDF pages, some with detailed maps). If you want to download the whole thing you can find it here. To make it more manageable we have split it into smaller sections, which we shall introduce with a description and a commentary, and each section will be much quicker to open. Click on each heading to download.
This is the contents of the presentation and useful information. They will start fencing off and building the site on 1st July and will be clear by the 19th July.
These are large files showing the layout of the event in the whole park and then the layout of the event arena in greater detail. The entrance to the arena will be in the centre of what used to be the golf course (as it was last year). The layout of the stages inside the arena has changed. The arena is larger than it was last year.
213 studio, one- and two-bed apartments are being created from the Worley Parsons office building which backs on to the arena. The development is named APT Kew Bridge and sold with the strap line ”with 180 acres of parkland on your doorstep” but without mentioning an annual event. This may influence the arena design in the future.
It is difficult to discover the differences between last year’s and this year’s scheme, other than promises of better stewarding and earlier administration of residents’ parking permits. Last year they allowed residents-only parking in 21 roads, and may be adding Gunnersbury Drive to this scheme rather than closing it completely (the presentation text is ambiguous). Gunnersbury Lane will be closed when the park empties at the end of each evening.
They promise to publish more on traffic management on the community web site.
This is the section of the presentation which dealt with stewarding. This was the issue that most concerned the residents at the meeting. Failures in stewarding last year created crises. There was no evidence of the capacity to respond to problems. Many doubted that some of them had had sufficient training. There were many examples of stewards not being properly managed. There was no visible management which residents or the public could approach when in difficulties. If a company is concerned to protect its profit, subcontracted stewarding is a good place to save money.
The promises were that stewarding would be improved, with an earlier start to the stewarding operation, more back-ups, more robust stewards in key areas and better supervision and communication. That seems to confirm the (wholly predictable) problems from 2018. We were told that there were four types of stewards with different duties, so it was all very difficult. They would not say by how much their stewarding budget had been increased, how to communicate with their management or how they planned to respond to unforeseen problems. Finally, the promise was that it would all be better because they were going to appoint a Community Manager.
This year the crowds will be stewarded to and from Ealing Broadway Station, along the North Circular road as well as Acton Town, and toilets will be provided. They did not seem to recognise that the crowds would want to use the shorter route between Elderberry Avenue and Windsor Gardens. There was no discussion about the use of South Ealing, Kew Bridge or Gunnersbury stations.
Taxis, minicabs and Uber hires will be offered a one-way route inside the park from the Great West Road entrance leaving by the exit gates at the Lionel/Popes junction. The prospect of congestion here will make this offer quite unattractive. Last year family pick-ups, minicabs and Uber hires blocked and clogged many of the roads around the park for hours each evening, and that seems set to happen again.
There will be a Noise Management Plan, and they promise to stick to it and monitor it. We don’t know what it is.
They promise to have more people answering the noise phone line and to record the complaints better (this rather confirms that the situation in 2018 was a shambles, after which they were able to report at the review meeting that only 30-ish complaints had been made over the three days – that noise in the background was derisive laughter).
The phone numbers to contact the councils are:
Hounslow Noise Service: 020 8583 2222
Ealing Noise Service: 020 8825 8111
The presentation shows a map over which they accept responsibility and for which they will publish a schedule of cleaning (when they have discussed this with both boroughs’ contractors). They promise to clean the rest of Gunnersbury Park more quickly than in 2018.
This was the most important part of their presentation and a change from last year. They have announced they will appoint a Community Manager with such an extensive range of responsibilities they will no doubt need to appoint a team as well.
The person will be the main liaison point between the organisers and the residents. He or she will have to attend planning meetings, liaise with business and local groups, maintain the web site, log the complaints during the three days and respond, coordinate the response to all the incidents around the event, manage the ticket ballot and the residents permits schemes, the opportunities for employment and the community benefit schemes.
It is very likely that this will be the only way to get a response to a problem during the three days of the event.
There will be a phone number which has not yet been created (but during the event it will close at 11 pm).
There is also an email address (email@example.com) and a web site (https://gpresidents-eventshub.com/)
Last year the organisers promised to fund workshops run by Livity for 120 young people interested in Events Management or the Music Industry, and 23 young people through PTriple to develop skills in songwriting, music production and performance.
This year they will fund young people though Bikeworks to work with ECargo bikes (under the Westway) to get a Level 1 Employability Skills qualification and a job interview.
Shows a map of the area you have to live in to be eligible to enter the ballot for pairs of tickets. It closes on 30th June – 1600 available.
Community Hub Website: https://gpresidents-eventshub.com/
Dedicated email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Two more residents meetings are planned:
Monday 27th May – 18:00 and 20:00
Monday 24th June – 18:00 and 20:00
To book a seat through Eventbrite: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/lovebox-and-citadel-festivals-public-meetings-tickets-56040700243