Following the outcome of The Friend’s legal proceedings in November, this week our solicitors sent a letter to Haringey Council alerting them to the fact that the current use of Finsbury Park – making a profit from hiring out the park to commercial interests and using the surplus income to subsidise other parts of the Council’s budget – is not a lawful way to run a park which is held on trust for the benefit of the public.
By law, all income generated through a public park must be spent on its maintenance or improvement. At the moment, however, the park generates substantially more money through commercial events than that which is spent on the park itself, meaning that the Council is not living up to its obligations as trustees of the park.
The letter, written by Susan Ring at Harrison Grant Solicitors, pointed out that “it would be an improper application of income generated from a park held in trust under the 1906 [Open Spaces] Act to use that income for any purpose but the maintenance and improvement of that park. In the case of Finsbury Park it is clear that not only has income generated by Finsbury Park been used for purposes other than maintaining and improving Finsbury Park in breach of the statutory trust, but it is the policy of [Haringey] council to do this.”
Haringey Council have been urged by the solicitors to “amend [their] policy forthwith to confirm that monies generated by Finsbury Park will only be used for the purposes of maintaining and improving Finsbury Park and to account for all monies generated by Finsbury Park and how those monies have been expended.”
Chair of the Friends, Simon Hunt, said “I think this letter is key in showing that the current council’s running of Finsbury Park is both unlawful and not in the interests of the park itself or its users. Going forward I will be holding the council to account and making sure that income raised through Finsbury Park is actually spent on Finsbury Park, which would make the park a cleaner, greener, more attractive and safer environment than it is at present. There is plenty of money generated by Finsbury Park which the park or its users never get to see. I’m hoping that the new Council which takes form after the local elections in May will be able to think creatively on how this surplus money can be spent to make the park a vibrant space which local people can be proud of.”
You can read the letter sent to from Susan Ring at Harrison Grant Solicitors to Haringey Council here