Preparing for Lovebox and Citadel

The Lovebox and Citadel events will happen on Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the coming weekend. Last year 111,000 people attended, and by every measure they had a really good time while they were in the park. The Gunnersbury Community Interest Company’s position is that the income is vital for its existence.

Afterwards, the organisers (from the company Mama Festival Ltd, led by David McCalmont) apologised extensively for many failures, mainly for the impact they had on people living around the park, and promised to do better this year. If they don’t keep that promise, pressure to stop these events will increase and the future funding of the park may be put in jeopardy.

What might change this year?

They have promised to:

  • Log the calls about noise more accurately;
  • Organise the road closures better – Popes Lane will be closed to traffic all day every day, Gunnersbury Lane closed every evening from 7pm;
  • Make it easier for local people to get access permits;
  • Improve the stewarding – an earlier start, more back-ups, placed in better positions, more of them, better supervised, and better communication between them. (In their Frequently Asked Questions Mamaco reports that the stewards’ supervisors are trained, but the stewards themselves are only briefed);
  • Encourage people leaving to walk up the North Circular to Ealing Broadway, as an alternative to Acton Town (with toilets along the route);
  • Acknowledge that people will leave from all the exits along Popes Lane, and place toilets near each one;
  • Discourage people from walking to the other nearby stations by telling them they will be “exit only”.
  • Require taxis to enter at the bottom of Lionel Road and leave at the Popes Lane/Lionel Road gate;
  • Employ a Community Manager to, among other things, receive and deal with complaints.

At all the meetings with the organisers their management strategy has been to claim that, where there is a problem, they will fix it for their next year’s event. This is the same strategy that they used before at Victoria Park. The careful reference they published from the Friends of Victoria Park reports that by the end of their 13 years in occupation, the low attendances at the public consultations may suggest that all the problems had been fixed. Or that the local people had given up because they know there was nothing more they could do.

Meanwhile, these events are very profitable for the organisers. Mama Festivals’ parent company in the UK is LN-Gaiety Holdings Limited; its ultimate owner is Live Nation Entertainment, a multi-billion dollar global entertainment company based in Beverley Hills.

The Friends’ view is that we need the Gunnersbury Community Interest Company to succeed, but it needs to build good relationships with many different groups, including the residents who live close enough to be affected by such a large and noisy event. In effect, the CIC has partially sub-contracted maintaining that relationship to Mamaco’s management skill, which was clearly lacking in 2018. We don’t believe the local residents have the right to veto good and valuable events in the park, but they are entitled to be cared for properly.

Mamaco’s appointment was not the result of the CIC, or Ealing Events, choosing the best bid from a competitive process. Mamaco had lost its Victoria Park venue and was trying for Brockwell Park against fierce local opposition when Ealing Events offered them Gunnersbury on behalf of the CIC. Mamaco referred to last year as the “inaugural” event, and we think they have been promised a run of at least four years.

There are three questions that arose from last year’s events and may be answered by what happens this year:

Is 40,000 visitors per night simply too many for the area?

Could another company handle things better?

Should Lovebox and Citadel (Mamaco) have to compete to be allowed to return in 2020?

After the events, please contact us if you have views about these three questions, or any other issues which have arisen. info@gunnersburyfriends.org

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Here are the ways to communicate with the organisers:

1)       The Community Manager is Jackie Sear.

Her email is jacqueline.sear@mamaco.com

Her mobile number is 07957 187494

2)       The Residents’ line: 020 3781 7334.

This line has 4 dedicated lines within Event Control, where the calls are  logged and reported to Community Manager at end of each event day.

On the three days of the events, this line closes at 11 pm, so will be  unable to take messages about the crowds leaving the site.

The organisers also give this number for noise issues and to report  rubbish that has not been cleared.

3)       Hounslow Council Noise Complaints: 020 8583 2222. Hounslow is the licensing authority for this park.

Ealing Council Noise Complaints: 020 8825 8111

4)       To report an issue to the organisers:

https://gpresidents-eventshub.com/report-and-issue

(this requires you to fill in a form with the promise that the organisers will  contact you.)

5)       The main web site for local residents is:

https://gpresidents-eventshub.com

6)       To email about the Lovebox event on the Friday and Saturday:  lovebox.info@mamaco.com

7)       To email about the Citadel event on the Sunday: info@citadelfestival.com

8)       The CIC office number is 020 3961 0280

We know that last year many people struggled to get through to most of these numbers. Their calls were therefore not recorded. At the review afterwards, Mamaco reported that there were very few complaints. Despite pressing them to be agile and responsive, it still looks as though it will be difficult to get an immediate response from them over  problems arising after 11 pm.

There are two associated documents which might be helpful. One is the Organisational Structure, which shows that Event Control is the hub of the operation. The other is a full explanation of the different roles of stewards, security staff and traffic marshalls, and details of the sub-contracting companies.

 

James Wisdom

9 July 2019