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 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

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


Filed under blackheath, festival

44 responses to “Blackheath Festival – leaflets appearing

  1. Angry Janice

    I also live at the top of Blackheath and Lewisham Hill and a few less noisy children on the school run and screaming in gardens would be even more appreciated. As would the line up of tanks clogging the roads when schools open and close. Can I take this moment to remind parents that their children are their responsibility and not everyone elses.
    Thank you
    Janice – who lives slap bang on the heath.

    • Anonymous

      lol, but kids really arent so bad are they? Festivals/kids you’ve got to love them all, the biggest noise pollution for me are the jets turning towards Heathrow – the Icelandic volcano resulted in a week of bliss…ahhhh

    • inkey$

      Couldn’t have put it better myself. What ‘concerned parents’ seem to forget about is that other childless residents of Blackheath have to put up with noise pollution, oversized 4WDs taking up two car spaces and a lack of seating whenever you want to go get a coffee and one of the many Blackheath cafe outlets.

      Do we complain or petition? No. Why? Because apparently its not socially acceptable but apparently it’s not a two way street – it’s a one way one with limited parking.


      • Jon Lee

        Fair comment mate. I say that as a father of a nine year old who attends John Ball. Really looking forward to this concert and the idea it will be cancelled just so the likkle babbies can get a good nights sleep is just too stupid for words.

  2. Olly

    I shall be putting something in writing though it will be in support of the festival.

    • heartof thevillage resident

      It’s not simply leaflets which are appearing; today I received a rather lofty circular from the BlackheathVillage Residents Group as follows:

      “There is currently a lot of discussion about the NIMBY event application on the Heath, not least by mostly anonymous contributors to the Blackheath Bugle blog. The BVRG view is that these matters are best discussed openly in public forum. An opportunity to do so is at the next Blackheath Assembly meeting”.

      My first reaction to the circular and the sentiments it expresses was to see it as a schoolmarmish effort by fellow travellers of the Blackheath Society to stifle free speech. However, having read it more closely this circular does, in fact, seem to display many features of borderline-libellous fantasy such as those exhibited by conspiracy theorists who shout down the internet (anonymously)

  3. Hi Blackheath Buglers

    A better idea would be to approach the kiters, asking if they can do anything to help instead of trying to stop the festival. They are really a very nice bunch of people and like the majority who enjoy the festival, want the event to be an fun family occassion and not one people will just moan about.
    In reality, no kind of public activity is without it`s drawbacks, so do we then ban them all and live mundane boring, selfish lives???

  4. Angry Janice

    Oh don’t get me started on the prams in shops and cafes and that attitude that having a pram somehow gives you priority. If I had my way, prams would be banned from Blackheath along with women who sound like those flutes reminiscent of clangers talking when they admire each other’s pram contents.

    The sound of a concert will upset the children starting school! Never heard the like! If your child encountering life terrified you, simply w them in more cotton wool.

  5. Angry Janice

    That should read
    If your child encountering life terrifies you, simply wrap them in more cotton wool.

    We didn’t have school in my day, just a hoop and a stick.

  6. Angry Janice

    Pay for hospitals in the future? I’m 45, by the time they’ve gone to university, had a gap year and start are chipping in I’ll be dead.

    • Anonymous

      Love your comments and as to the leaflet – FFS get a life. I think the festival is a great idea and I plan to take me kids during the day as it’s just down the road. Think leaflet distributor should do the same, that way the kids will be worn out and won’t be in the least bit peturbed by the noise later on.

      If noise, litter and a night of disturbed sleep worry you that much, move out to the sticks and take your petty grievances with you. Alternatively, buy some ear plugs and get a life.

      • Jon Lee

        It really does make you wonder if these people have ever been to a music festival in their lives. Every one I’ve been to has been a pretty civilised affair with most people drinking sensibly,enjoying the music and going home afterwards. The occasional drunk is dealt with by security and-if you can believe this-I’ve never seen anybody shooting up methamphetamine and going on the rampage. Like I mentioned in another post, I have a nine year old child and live near the heath so I really don’t want used syringes and broken crack pipes littering the heath and I genuinely don’t expect to see any after this festival.

  7. scared of chives

    Next time there’s a Punch and Judy show – wot with all that shrieking and banging – I’m going to complain to the council.

  8. Brian

    I was also at the meeting referred to in the leaflet and there seem to be a few inconcistencies with Abigail and Simon’s statement and what the organisers actually said.
    1) the license allows live music between 12noon – 10.30pm on Saturday and 12noon – 10pm on Sunday
    2) the license allows the sale of alcohol between 12noon – 10pm on Saturday and 12noon – 9.30pm on Sunday
    3) the festival goers will be disperesed via Lewisham, Greenwich and Blackheath Stations and who knows some might even walk home. So in reality there will not be 25,000 people walking down Lewisham Hill late on Sunday night, more like 10,000 – 12,000 at the most I would think.
    4) The organisers were very clear when they said they will make sure that they have the immediate vicinity around the event site cleared of litter and detritus by Monday morning, not becuase they are legally required to but because they (as locals themselves) want to.
    5) They also made it clear there will be over 80 security staff and over 20 police officers on duty throughout the event inside the arena and around the outskirts of the site.

    I have kids and if they are tired you could drive a train through their room and they wouldn’t wake up so a bit of music for two nights out of 365 is hardly likely to cause any lasting damage. Here’s an idea – take them along to the festival during the day, have a great family day out, wear them out, take them home early evening, eh voila…or you could just keep trying to ruin everyone else’s fun.

  9. Anonymous

    Maybe Foxtons could sponsor the festival, now that would spark some debate….

  10. Brenda

    Wont someone think of the poor children…. bah!

    I live near the Valley and we had similar leaflets distributed to us when Elton John was doing a concert down there on a Sunday night. He had sound restrictions put on him as it was a school night. I didnt go but thought it was pretty ridiculous the amount of complaints for a one off. Bet they went loopy when the Who sang there back in the 70’s.

  11. Jane

    I assume they live in a detached house and not flats where dealing with noise is a constant issue .

  12. Angry Janice

    If you are referring to that time I was drunk Jane, it was my birthday and A whim away, a Whim a way, the lion sleeps tonight was on the radio (mostly).

  13. Paul L

    Really? Really?? Let’s not allow the festival because kids have school on Monday, really?? What a pathetic, desperate attempt by these killjoys. What is wrong with people? It’s quite clear from all the comments on here, which is an open forum that 95% of people are in favour of holding this festival. I’d urge everyone to write to the MP supporting this festival. It would be a travesty if it was binned because of a minority of killjoys, and it is a minority of people who oppose it, lets be clear. This could actually be a great event for Blackheath and it’s local people. Lets look at the positives rather than the negatives and what if’s. Give it a chance, it could be a huge success. If there are problems then don’t allow it next year, simple

    • Anonymous

      So the support of 95% of people on an obscure internewt forum is a legitimate reason for making the lives of several hundred people hell for two days?

      • heartofthevillageresident

        Don’t you think you’ve got this a bit out of proportion? “Hell” is what the people of North East Japan sufferd in the recent earthquake and its aftermath, or the residents of Misrata in Libya; or those whose families were massacred in Cote D’Ivoire this week. Or the young people rounded up by the Syrian secret police and who are having the hell kicked out of them in uspeakable prison cells as we moan about whether or not to hold a pop festival.

        “Hell” isn’t what people experience when disturbed by noise from a pop festival . I’d describe it as a minor inconvenience.

        Those who find the noise & distrurbance intolerable can always go away for the weekend. That’s probably what I shall do if the event goes ahead. I shall do the same when the Olympic athletic event happens next year. In its own dreary way it sounds just as objectionable.

        By the way, I’m opposed to the event and lodged an objection to it. There are already too many events on the Heath for my taste – and if this event is allowed to go ahead a precedent will have been set which will lead to many more like it (especially given the council’s desperate need to raise revenue wherever it can).

        However, I can accept that my tastes are not necessarily shared by many other people who find the prospect of a pop festival quite exciting and, if the event does go ahead, it won’t be the end of life as we know it. And it most definately will not be hell.

      • ThePirateKing

        ‘Hell’ is a bit strong isn’t it?

        It’s just a bit of music.

  14. Bob Land

    By using the name Anonymous, as a users name, does not help in making it a less obscure website.

  15. John

    As far as I know there is only one blogg dedicated to only Blackheath issues, this one ! Just type blackheath into google and you will see the blogg link . How did you find out about this ‘obscure’ blogg ?

  16. Paul L

    In response to Anonymous – This is an open public forum dedicated to Blackheath issues and certainly not an obscure one. Everyone is entitled to their opinion for or against. There have been a vast number of people who have commented on this site, and the majority of people are in favour of this festival taking place. Maybe 95% is a bit high, but this forum must reflect in some part the public feeling towards this, and that’s people are in favour. Also you say it will make the lives of several hundred hell, well what about the enjoyment it will give to several thousand Blackheath residents like myself?? I’m not suggesting there won’t be any inconveniences to some residents, but unfortunately we shouldn’t allow the minority to rule in these situations.

    • Anonymous

      1. Enumerate the “vast” number who have expressed approval.
      2. Give numbers of residents who will be affected by the noise [stand on the site and count front doors/windows] .
      Then I will be happy to talk about “majorities”.

      PS: Daubing as “killjoys” everyone concerned about the impact of this festival – including the precedent it will set – is quite ridiculous. There are plenty of other events on the Heath that are welcomed by groups such as CrustySoc and Blackheath Vigilants Revolutionary Action.

      • Paul L

        Well I wasn’t going to dignify that with a response, but oh well!! Maybe my logic is completely off the mark, but generally in life more people will take the time to complain about something than write something good, Brits love to complain, it’s what we do! Aside from yourself and the Blackheath Society I don’t see too many people who are complaining about it!! But I do hear a lot of people supporting it. Going to your point about noise, of course there will be some noise and possible inconvenience to some I’m not denying that, but if that was for the basis for not allowing such events to happen then nothing would ever be able to take place ever. That is a flawed argument. What needs to be done is for everyone to work together with the organisers to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum. Maybe they should ban the fireworks on the heath as well as that attracts thousands of people and has lots of loud fireworks??? Unfortunately, I think your point of view is a completely selfish one. You’re probably quite happy for such events to take place elsewhere, but for someone to suggest a festival in Blackheath and that’s a different story. To me you’re simply scaremongering. I’ve been to many festivals and the majority are enjoyable and people are there just to have a good time ,not to cause trouble. This is hardly going to be like V or Glastonbury for goodness sake. I appreciate you may just not want this, but there is no reason not to give them a chance, and if there are problems then don’t give them a licence next year, simple. Though with the ongoing legal preceedings it looks like it may not go ahead as time is simply running out, so you may get your wish after all

  17. Paul

    To all the killjoys… you should have expected this to happen after camp climate. I really enjoyed popping into the camp and listening to the music and debates. The first thing I said to my girlfriend was – you could hold festival here on the heath; so I was obviously not the only one to think this.

    I don’t get what the problem really is within the original post “There is nothing wrong with people having fun, or people making money. But, festival organiser’s usually try to avoid disrupting local residents”.
    You are obviously against the festival – full stop. Festivals will have lots of people, loud music and alcohol (until the agreed times), there’s no getting away from that. Obviously the organisers will have to clear up, but as for the noise? What are you saying? You want a really quite festival?

  18. Michele O'Brien

    The fate of OnBlackheath, the pop festival that NIMBY Events Ltd. wants to stage on the Heath this Sept. 10 and 11, still hangs in the balance.

    Magistrates at Bromley hearing Blackheath Society’s appeal against the planned event adjourned the case on Tuesday (5 April) until 16 May.

    “Here we are at the end of Day 4 (of hearing evidence from witnesses on all sides involved in the case) and it still isn’t finished”, one of the two magistrates hearing the case told the court Tuesday, announcing the adjournment.

    Tom Wates, one of the three NIMBY directors, told the court in evidence Tuesday: “The support from our point of view has been overwhelming” in favour of the festival going ahead.

    But he indicated that the continuing uncertainty over the outcome of Blackheath Society’s appeal is causing NIMBY major headaches, including booking artists.

    “We can’t confirm any of the artists,” he told the court, “and we can’t confirm some of the contractors … They will not enter into these discussions until they know that the event is actually happening.”

    Determined to stop the festival going ahead, the Society has hired a barrister to represent it in court and appealed to its members to dig into their pockets for cash to support it’s substantial legal expenses in the case.

    Recognized as one of the most powerful local groups of its kind in the country, the Society bills itself as the “Guardians of the Heath.”

    But polls on local internet blogs show support for the festival going ahead
    running at around 89 percent.

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

    NIMBY is planning on it attracting audiences of 25,000 on each of the festival’s two days this September.

    “We want to use this event to showcase what Blackheath is all about,” Mr. Wates told he court.

    The appeal hearings at Bromley Magistrates Court began 3 March and continued 4 March, 4 April and Tuesday.

    • Chad Valley

      Is there any information available as to how many people the Blackheath Society claim to represent? They do seem an extremely vocal organisation but also, to my mind, to only represent a very narrow section of the community. They seem intent on doing all they can to stop this festival; creating an air of alarm in the process, and failing to take on board any wider views.

      • Anonymous

        Plenty of information. Really hard to find though. You have to take the trouble to ring the office and ask. Or look at the web site. As I said, really hard.

        You could even JOIN and shout at the people who do not represent you. But they have never claimed to do so. They represent only a few people willing to get off their arses and care a toss about keeping a watching brief on planners, developers, drunks, litter louts, the police, etc, etc. for the rest of the time when there are no festivals threatened.

      • ThePirateKing

        The Blackheath Society prints a list of all its members in its annual report. BUT as I’ve said before it did not ballot or ask members views (I am a member) before taking against the NIMBY event. I have written to the Society expressing my support for the event and asking them to consider that perhaps many of their own members might be in favour if they bothered to ask them.

      • Angry Janice

        Precisely Chad Valley, they should be outed.

    • Dr Nick

      is this a press release/quote from a publication?

      Regarding the commentary around the Blackheath Society being “…determined to stop the festival going ahead…”, I thought I’d add news of an extra hurdle…

      The Society’s appeal is actually a judicial review of the *licence grant* for the sale of alcohol and staging of live music. The reason seems to be that, at the time of application, the applicant – NIMBY – was a “shell” company with £2 share capital. It is probably being argued that the application had seriously inadequate information about safety, prevention of nuisance, and policing.
      Having seen a copy of the application, I was actually inclined to agree – IIRC it said “…suitable arrangements will be made…” about most things, which didn’t inspire confidence. I’ll see if I can dig it out, and – if permissible – publish it.

      The question of whether the event itself can then go ahead does seem to be another, separate issue, at least according to the discussions at the Blackheath Assembly last Thursday. There needs to be permission (it was said) at least from Lewisham’s head of Community Services, and possibly from a government minister as well.

      So even if the licence grant is upheld, there is still at least one further hurdle – but there’s more…

      Further discussions at the Blackheath Assembly indicated that it was actually unlikely a festival could go ahead this year (not enough time to plan for logistics, liaise with police, council, etc.) nor next year (we’re hosting some kind of athletics championships apparently, which means the Heath and surrounding areas are under heavy management due to the Olympic Route Network).

      (I was hoping the Bugle was there, to report on the Assembly – not so, then?)

      I want to push back a bit on the statement that “…polls on local internewt blogs show support… at around 89 percent…”
      This is probably factually correct, but it’s not a representative survey of local opinion. It’s much more closely related to “8 out of 10 cats” – the Whiskas slogan, which subsequently became “8 out of 10 owners who expressed a preference said…” It then died quietly, as it didn’t have quite so much impact any more.
      The voting population of Blackheath ward was 9784 at the 2010 election, and of Blackheath Westcombe around 9600 – which would require nearly 20,000 voters having the opportunity to vote in a poll before it were “representative”. It might just be better to let the democratic machinery hold plebicites, and let us get on with holding forth. I will try not to extrapolate from “robustly expressed opinion” to “overwhelming popular support” without a bit more evidence. I have overwhelming popular support for that in my house :)

      • Michele O'Brien

        @Dr Nick:
        “is this a press release/quote from a publication?”

        It’s a report by an interested resident who was in court for the
        hearings on Monday and Tuesday – ie. me.

  19. heartofthevillageresident

    To be fair to the NIMBY promoters, well before the most recent court hearing, they published a detailed account of the things you mention (security and so forth). Because I had lodged a formal objection to the event I received a copy. I didn’t find it particularly convincing but they have tried.

    It does sound as though the Society and its supporters have pinned their hopes on a spoiling strategy in the belief that legal delays will force the promoters and their backers to withdraw whilst at the same time discouraging future NIMBY type applications. Such legal strategies are expensive (and sometimes counter-productive) but I imagine the Society has the resources to fund one. It’s probable that the £200K cash deposits the Society inherited when it acquired the Blackheath Preservation Trust last year came in very handy. That may be an effective strategy so far as gaining the Society’s leaderships’ objectives but it seem a shame that an issue that arouses such passion amongst local people is decided essentially upon one group’s financial firepower rather than upon the merits of the case.

    I also think there’s an element of “whistling in the dark” as regards the notion that it’s now too late for the event to take place this year. The NIMBYists have already done a lot of the ground work for the policing arrangements, etc. Assuming the court case is decided in NIMBY’s favour this month then there is ample time to finalise the administrative logistics.

    But I share your scepticism re online petitions and drawing conclusions about the level of support (or opposition) for the NIMBY event from postings to the Bugle (which in true internet style plays an invaluable role as an alternative to the BVRG / Blackheath Society hegemony in the this area). Nevertheless, the generational conflict aspect of the Bugle-hosted discussion is I think authentic and it offers the Society’s leadership a warning of where its greatest weakness lies – that is, of being perceived as an elitist, grumpy old persons’ social club run by an unaccountable clique.

  20. Rich

    I find it terribly disappointing how a small group of people with the means and the time on their hands are expending so much energy trying stop an event that clearly has a great deal of local support. I hope I don’t become so narrow minded when I no longer enjoy such events.

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