Click here to download the full version of our Finsbury Park Life Summer Newsletter 2017
Hope for the Hope Space
A few weeks ago, the Friends were contacted by Maurice Hope, father of the late Richard Hope, after whom the Hope Space was named. Richard Hope was an aspiring young local playwright and director of great promise, who was awarded Young Poet of the Year in 1993, and went on to write numerous full-scale theatrical productions, gaining a reputation for his outstanding writing abilities.
He was set to receive the award for Best Play of the Year in 1998 when, to the great sadness of his family and the theatrical community, his life was cut short at just age 28. Torn apart by Richard’s death, a close friend of his set about creating a memorial space, the Hope Space, in what was Richard’s favourite local park, as a tribute to the many achievements he managed in his short career in writing. Richard’s father Maurice, not a local to the area, discovered the Hope Space for the first time just a few weeks ago, and was touched to find such a great memorial to his son’s life. Maurice told us how delighted he was to have chanced upon the memorial. “It’s a bit like discovering a new lease of life! To have Rick’s name associated with the park is so uplifting”, he told us. Maurice would like to help out with the upkeep of the space in whatever way he can. To commemorate the 20th anniversary of Richard Hope’s unfortunate death, the Friends are getting in touch with local theatrical groups to put on an open-air play next summer in the Hope Space – an area well-suited to outdoor performances.
Hope Space clean-up
We have continued to support the Park Team, (who like many of our public sector workers, face the challenge of having to deal with public spending cuts), by organising the monthly Hope Space Clean Up. The project was set up in conjunction with Parents from the Stroud Green School and the aim was to claim the Hope Space back for family use. After organising cleaning of more areas, bulb planting and craft activities, we’ve now reached the stage were we would welcome more ideas for developing the Hope Space and how we could support our excellent Park Operations Team to make Finsbury Park a shining example of what can be achieved with community involvement.
Wireless Update 2017
We were contacted by lots of people over the last week in relation to their experiences (some of them really quite shocking) of the Wireless Festival 2017. Thanks to all those who contacted us. We need all the evidence we can get about people’s experiences of the festival in order to strengthen our case, as we go to appeal in November against Justice Supperstone’s ruling that the event is legal. So if you or anyone you know have had an experience of the festival, we would encourage you to complete our online form “My Wireless Experience” on our website.
Following our decision to call for a judicial review in relation to the continued over-use of the park for private and commercial events, the Friends has decided to appeal the decision taken by Lord Justice Supperstone in June last year. An appeal has been granted, with a court date immanent. We have teamed up with the Open Spaces Society, a charity concerned with the protection of parks and open spaces across the country, who will be intervening on our behalf during the court proceedings. The Society is deeply concerned about how our park and others across the capital has been neglected by local authorities in recent times. The closure of the park for commercial events is increasing considerably every year. It used to be tolerable – one or two days of events each summer, and little disruption besides. But with the large number of events taking place this summer, as well as the persistent deterioration of parts of the park, this level of exploitation of the park is not sustainable.
It’s not about banning events in the park outright. If we win our appeal, the ruling will not ban commercial events, but it will restrict the number of days of events, and the size of events, to a level that is sustainable and continues to preserve the park as an area of tranquility and natural beauty, free and open to all. This is not just about protecting Finsbury park and safeguarding it for future generations. The outcome of this Appeal will have ramifications for every park across our capital. It will decide whether parks will be protected for local communities against commercial overexploitation, or given away indefinitely for local authorities to hire out to whomever they want, for however long, regardless of the damage caused. That’s why, more than ever, the Friends need your help to fight this legal case. We need to send out a message to local authorities that parks are there for everyone, not just for the commercial interests of a few large businesses. Please help us out by giving us what you can towards our – not inconsiderable – legal fees. Click here
On Monday, 29th May, the Friends, along with the Stroud Green Residents’ Association, hosted an election hustings for the constituency of Hornsey and Wood Green. The event was very well attended, with over 100 audience members packing the Trinity Church hall in Stapleton Hall Road that was being used for the occasion. The room was so packed with local residents, keen to hear what party candidates had to say on local issues, that many had to stand for the entirety of the event – but that didn’t stop them! All of the party candidates bar the Conservatives and UKIP attended the debate and gave thoughtful, clear answers to questions put to them by members of the audience. The question of the over-use of Finsbury Park for private and commercial events was put to the candidates, with the majority of them expressing concern about this use of the park, and some offering an undertaking to cap the duration of time that the park can be closed off from the public. We would like to thank Trinity Church for lending us their hall for a few hours, to the candidates for attending, to the audience for their keenness and cooperation, and especially to the Friends’ Vice-Chair Eldridge Culverwell for his work in putting the event together.