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High Court to hear battle over permission for major festival in London park

The High Court will this week hear a judicial review challenge to Haringey Council’s decision to allow the Wireless Festival to take place at Finsbury Park next month.

The claim is being brought by the Friends of Finsbury Park over the 18 March 2016 decision of the local authority to hire the park to Festival Republic Ltd. The Wireless Festival is due to be held on 8-10 July.

The claimants in their statement of facts and grounds argued that:

1. The council failed to carry out a consultation in accordance with the Sedley rules and the legitimate expectation created by its outdoor events policy;

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2. The council failed to deal with the application as a key decision (including in advance publicity) and to record the decision and to make the officer report, decision and background documents available as required by the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012, regulations 8 to 14 and the council’s Constitution;

3. The council’s decision to close part of the park for the purposes of the Festival was unlawful since it contravened:

(a) The restriction upon the size of the area which may be closed under Article 7 of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government Provisional Order Confirmation (Greater London Parks and Open Spaces) Act 1967 (“the 1967 Act”);

(b) The restrictions on the duration for which a park may be closed to the public, in whole or in part, in section 44 of the Public Health Amendment Act 1890 (“the 1890 Act”);

4. The council failed to have regard to a relevant consideration, its own Finsbury Park Management Plan, and that the number of persons attending the event exceeded the limits in that plan.

In their claim form, the Friends of Finsbury Park said they were seeking:

  • A quashing order of the council’s decision;
  • A declaration that the council does not have the power to close parts of Finsbury Park for more than six consecutive days or 12 days in total in any year;
  • A declaration that Haringey does not have the power to close more than 10% of the park for the provision of entertainment;
  • An injunction, if necessary; and
  • Costs.

The claimants have funded the proceedings through the Crowd Justice website, raising £11,141 so far. This is more than their original target but only 37% of their ‘stretch goal’ of £30,000.

The claimants’ barrister is Richard Harwood QC of 39 Essex Chambers, instructed by Susan Ring, a solicitor at Richard Buxton Environmental & Public Law.

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