In the Meadows area local residents have been voicing their concerns over the use of the Meadows as an events venue for years, and this has now culminated in calls for council officers to develop a city wide Parks Events Strategy. Greener Leith, along with other community groups in the city, have recently been invited by the Friends of the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links to contribute towards a statement they’re preparing to give to the officials involved. Apparently this document is set to be considered by councillors in November.
It would seem that a great deal of debate has been focussed on setting firm numbers on the duration, scale and the frequency of events in parks. The Greener Leith committee considered these issues and felt it that it was in fact very difficult to come up with hard a fast rules over what should and should not be permitted.
We are of no doubt that some parks are ‘over used,’ and for people who live close to over used parks then it is easy to understand the perception that commercial operators are able to clean-up on profits, whilst creating noise, mess and damage to the park, that the local residents have to live with – often for months later.
Nevertheless, there are also parks that would benefit from greater use, and more events. Locally we’ve seen both sides of this equation. This year, for example, the news that the Mela would return to Pilrig park, generated a degree of concern from local residents over the potential for traffic, litter, noise and long term damage to the park. Changes were made by the organisers to accomodate these concerns, and it would seem little lasting damage resulted, this year at least.
On the other hand, Friends of Parks groups, such as the Friends of Montgomery Street Park are helping to bring their local pocket parks to life by organising events that encourage people into their local park, and perhaps to make more use of it longer term. In fact, the Friends of Montgomery Street park masterplan for improving their park includes more hard standing to make it easier to hold even more events in the park.
Each park is different, with different pressures, and different uses. Therefore, rather than a strategy that establishes hard and fast rules over the number, frequency or duration of events, we propose that responsibility for managing events in parks beyond a certain size is simply devolved to the various local Neighbourhood Partnerships.
If each Neighbourhood partnership had the power to veto events, or impose management conditions on particular events going ahead, then this could provide local democractic oversight over the events that take place in an area. Afterall, neighbourhood partnerships have all the right people around the table – local councillors, local community councillors, representatives from the emergency services, local businesses and local voluntary organisations. Why not give them the power to decide?