Tag Archives: on blackheath

Blackheath Festival Abandoned for 2011

Michelle O’Brien writes that Nimby won’t go ahead with the On Blackheath festival this year:

Organisers of the planned OnBlackheath pop festival this summer said on Monday (May 16th) that they will almost certainly now have to abandon it after Bromley Magistrates ordered yet another adjournment in hearing Blackheath Society’s appeal against the event.

“We are desperately disappointed,” NIMBY Events Ltd. director Tom Wates said after the Magistrates adjourned the hearing of the Society’s appeal, this time until 29 June.

Monday was the 5th day of the hearings. They began on the 3rd of March.

But Mr. Wates said on Monday that if the Magistrates did finally throw out the Society’s appeal, NIMBY would be back again with a new bid to stage the open-air two-day festival on the Heath in September 2012.

Among the class of stars NIMBY had been looking to feature at the festival this Sept. 10 and 11 year were Adele and Mumford & Sons. NIMBY had been planning on attracting audiences of 25,000 on each of the planned festival’s two days, charging £45 per ticket per day.

Mr. Wates and his wife own the Noa Noa dress shop in Blackheath Village.

Earlier on Monday, Peter Gadsdon, head of Lewisham Council’s Strategy and Performance department and chairman of the Council’s Safety Advisory Group, had told the two Magistrates hearing the appeal: “Mr. Wates indicated that the event would not go ahead unless there was a decision today.”

Fellow NIMBY director Alex Wicks said that as a result of the Society’s legal bid to block the festival the three parties involved – NIMBY, the Society and Lewisham Council – had together been involved in spending “a ridiculous amount of money, far too much” on legal fees. Each of the three is represented in court by a barrister.

Mr. Wicks said a guesstimate for the total for the three would be £200,000. “It’s a significant amount of money which could have been put to better use than this”.

He said NIMBY has financial backing from a venture capital group. Blackheath Society, meanwhile, has appealed to its
members to dig into their pockets to help fund its legal costs. As a Council, Lewisham’s legal costs are met by local council tax payers.

The presiding Magistrate, Mr. Roger Mills, told the court on Monday: “This appeal was originally listed for two days” (March 3rd and 4th). “But here we are half way through Day 5 and Day 6 is looming.”

But he said that because of “the enormous amount of evidence” from the hearings that the two Magistrates would have to plough through there could be no final decision in the case until some unspecified time after June 29th.

At an earlier hearing, Mr. Wates had indicated continuing uncertainty over the outcome of the Society’s appeal was causing NIMBY major headaches, including booking artists. He said neither artists nor some of the contractors NIMBY wanted to use would enter into discussions until they knew for certain that the festival was going ahead.

Recognised as one of the most powerful local groups of its kind in the country, Blackheath Society bills itself as the “Guardians of the Heath.” But local blogs show overwhelming support for OnBlackheath especially among younger people.

The Society’s appeal is against a ruling by Lewisham Council’s licensing sub-committee that gave the go-ahead for NIMBY to stage the festival annually this year and in perpetuity, with sale of alcohol.

Many thanks to Michelle for sending this in. I’ve always been in two minds about the festival to be honest – never quite decided which side of the fence to land… But it is clear that many people commenting here and on other local blogs (such as the excellent 853blog), feel strongly that the Society may have mis-judged the local mood this time.

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Blackheath Festival – leaflets appearing

Anti OnBlackheath music festival leaflet
Just received a copy of a leaflet that is being delivered near to the festival:

Why we are asking you to write to your MP about the OnBIackheath Festival due to be held very near here in September

Dear Neighbour,
We live nearby – at the top of Lewisham Hill, and are writing to you as neighbours. We don’t belong to any group.

On the 10th and 11th September a company cailed NIMBY Events are planning to hold a festival on the same part of the Heath that was used forthe Climate Camp last year.

There is nothing wrong with people having fun, or people making money.

But, festival organisers usuaily try to avoid disrupting local residents, especially young children. Like you, we live here and we think that the views of local peopie should be considered.

We are concemed about the OnBlackheath Festival for the following reasons:

  • It is being held in the first two weeks of the new September school term – keeping nursery and primary school children awake when they need to be resting for school
  • The event is licensed all weekend for all-day drinking until 10.30pm on Sunday night
  • Once the music and drinking stops, late on Sunday night, up to 25,000 people will be encouraged to head down Lewisham Hill to the station. Many will presumably hang around until later.

We do not have assurance that the organisers will have managed to clean up by the next momlng, when children walk across the heath to get to school. At other festivals it is not unknown for broken bottles, drug paraphernalia and other detritus to be found the next day.

The reason we’re writing to you is that the alcohol licence – which was granted for this and every subsequent year – has been challenged in court, and the festival might also need ministerial approval. So there is a short window of opportunity between now and the hearing on April for local people to make their views known. This may make all the difference, as the local MP, Heidi Alexander, says the letters she has received so far have been roughly half in favour, half against.

At the recent public meeting we asked the organisers if they would consider moving the Festival out of school term time to the summer holidays. They said no, because it might reduce attendance numbers.

You can email Heidi Alexander MP, at heidi.alexander.mp@parliament.uk or write to her at Heidi Alexander, MP for Lewisham East, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.

The best way of making your views known directly to the licensing appeal is to write to the magistrates at the following address: The Presiding Judge, Reg Case No: 011003910186, Greenwich Magistrates Court, The Court House, London Rd, Bromley, BR1 1RA

If you can, please do it before 15th April while there is still chance to influence the decision.

Thank you,
Simon and Abigail, local residents (simonandabigail at gmail.com)

It will be interesting to see how this plays out… I suspect the festival will go ahead regardless.

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The Blackheath Festival organisers

853blog has an interview with the organisers of the proposed festival on the heath, now provisionally branded as “On Blackeath”. They have a website too, where you can sign up for more info, or send a comment. It’s good that they’re providing more info. I still wish it was a freebie though. Maybe I’ll take my mandolin and start an illegal rave down at the other end of the heath…

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Photos from the Blackheath Funfair

Blackheath Funfair fairground ride by Emma Webb

Flickr user Emma Webb has posted some fantastic pictures of various fairground rides on the heath.

The funfair (near the Greenwich end of the heath) finished on Monday (I think?), so if you fancied eating too much candy floss, and feeling a bit ill on the Waltzer, you’ll have to make do with the photos…

It certainly looks more impressive in the dark than it did in the drizzle.

Blackheath Funfair fairground ride by Emma Webb

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All the fun of the Blackheath Fair

Blackheath Fun Fair setting up
UPDATE: For info on the 2011 Blakcheath Fun Fair, go here.
I was wondering why so many people were coming to my site Googling “Blackheath Funfair”, until Mrs Bugle pointed out that the fair is currently setting up on the Greenwich end of the heath.

Blackheath Fair Freak Out Ride

So I wandered up there in the pouring rain to take a look.  There’s a good reason it was called Bleak Heath – when the wind and the rain are buffeting you around, it really is quite barren up there.

Anyway, I got there in the end, and it was totally deserted. There’s something about funfairs – they seem like the last vestiges of something unsafe, ungoverned and risky left in our safe little lives – like a kind of in-between space locked somewhere between the 19th and 21st centuries…  Maybe a sort of “liminal zone”, with some similarities to how Kate Fox describes UK pubs in the brilliant book Watching The English

Although the pub is very much part of English culture, it also has its own “social micro-climate”.  Like all drinking places, it is in some respects ‘liminal zone’ an equivocal, marginal, borderline state, in which one finds a degree of “cultural remission” – a structured, temporary relaxation or suspension of normal social controls (also known as “legitimised deviance” or “time-out behaviour”).

Blackheath Fair Terminator Ride

What a lovely book… Anyway,  I eventually found someone to speak to, and asked them when the fairground will be opening.  The answer: “Tomorrow, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday”.  In other words, the fair on the heath will be open from Thursday 21st – Monday 25th August 2008.

Further reading:  The Phantom has a great piece about the Greenwich Fair here.  Fewer Dodgems and more tumbling.

If you are going to Blackheath Fair, for god’s sake, watch out for Spring Heeled Jack, particularly if you’re called Polly, and you’ve had one too many shandies…

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