On Blackheath festival: No decision until April

Despite two days of hearings at Bromley Magistrates Court at the end of last week, a final decision on whether the planned On Blackheath festival won’t be made for at least another month, with proceedings now due to resume on 4 and 5 April. In case you’re new to this little saga, the Blackheath Society is objecting to Lewisham Council granting an alcohol licence for a two-day music festival on the Hare & Billet Road side of the heath on 10/11 September.

Doubling the length of the proceedings means doubling the cost – meaning the stakes get higher for those involved, and a possible drain on the funds of Lewisham Council, who approved the licence last October.

In the meantime, organisers tell me they’re planning to hold an event in the next few weeks to talk to locals about their plans, more details of which will hopefully emerge soon.

My previous posts on the planned event, Blackheath’s festival organisers speak out and On Blackheath: Greenwich councillors object keep on attracting lots of comments, as do those over at the Blackheath Bugle.

One aspect of the affair which intrigues me is the role of Lewisham Council’s parks contractor Glendale in all this. Lewisham’s patch of Blackheath (south of Shooters Hill Road) is run on the council’s behalf by the company as part of an outsourcing deal. In Greenwich Council’s budget debate last week, while criticising Conservative suggestions that Greenwich should outsource some services, Greenwich West Labour councillor David Grant claimed Glendale benefits financially from holding events in Lewisham’s parks – including the festival on the heath. There’s no love lost across the border on this one.

So, you’ve read what the organisers have to say, and you can read what the Blackheath Society has to say, but what do you think? Time for a poll…

7 comments

  1. One point seems to have been overlooked in all the shouting: even if the organisers win the licence appeal, they will still have to apply to Lewisham Council for permission to use the Heath. That will require a longish consultation [something that should have been done BEFORE this all blew up].

    Considering that the body which governs the Heath, the Blackheath Joint Working Party, has twice rejected the application and Greenwich Council has also objected, approval may not be automatic.

  2. Dai Smile, I do not know where you are getting this information from but you are ill informed.

    The Blackheath Joint Working Party govern absolutely nothing. They are an advisory group. They have no jurisdiction and they are not an elected body. Nobody applies to the BJWP for approval, why would they, and rejecting things is just their way. They rejected the Olympics & the race for life and everything that they see. Their advice can be taken onboard, ignored or discussed and thrown out. Frankly they have cried wolf so many times nobody takes them seriously anyway.

  3. Rejected because the tannoy was too loud. They only raise over £1million pounds for cancer research during that event!

  4. Is that the Race for Life still being advertised for July 13th. Someone should inform the organisers.

    BTW, any complaint about being “ill informed” should be forwarded to Lewisham Council. To quote its web site:

    “To ease the problems caused by the lack of a single body with responsibility for managing Blackheath, the two councils [Lewisham and Greenwich] established the Blackheath Joint Working Party to provide some degree of co-ordination for the maintenance of the Heath.

    The Joint Working Party is attended by councillors and officers from both boroughs, along with representatives of amenity groups, notably the Blackheath Society and the Greenwich Society, and conservation organisations such as the London Ecology Unit and London Wildlife Trust. There is free public access at all times.

    The considerable improvements to the ecology of the Heath in recent years are due largely to initiatives of the Joint Working Party. It is to be hoped that this trend will continue in the future. While the management of Blackheath must always seek a compromise between nature conservation, sports and recreation, there is still a lot which can be done to improve the Heath for wild plants and animals.”

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