Parks litter and waste management:
Due to budget cuts the Parks service have had to review the Grounds Maintenance specification. They, unfortunately, cannot afford to employ weekend staff between October and March. The weekend litter picking service starts in April and runs through to September. We confirmed with the event organisers Gung-Ho to provide adequate euro litter bins and waste management for their event attendees and this was appropriate for the event, well managed and dealt with as per their plans. Due to the warm sunny weekend, there was a greater number of people using the regular park bins in the area which would have meant bins were full. The images taken on Twitter showed beer cans and bottles of alcohol, takeaway containers and not your normal family fitness charity event fare. So while we agree there would have been an uplift in numbers in the park attributed by the event, the waste management plans in place for the event were appropriate to address this.
Moving forward we have suggested to our colleagues in Parks, as we do with Veolia for street cleaning, requesting extra measures during large and major events taking place in the park which will help mitigate future problems from non-event related litter and the impact. This will include some additional waste collection during events that warrant this during sunny weekends and using Lambeth Landscapes for waste management on smaller events.
We will also work with the Parks team, and the Brockwell Park Community Partners around park user communication in asking people using our parks and open spaces to pick their litter up, place it in a bin or take it home. People picnicking and abandoning their litter where they sit has been witnessed on non-event days and was evident on Saturday morning by Council officers onsite.
Event Conditions for Gung Ho Event:
The event had a waste management plan in place. There were bins next to all water stations, a number bins in the event area and people going around the route picking litter (two throughout the event). We had two event officers and one park officer onsite monitoring the event, litter-wise there wasn’t a huge amount from the event, and where there were issues with full bins, and these were picked up on and addressed by the organisers on Saturday. When officers left Brockwell Park (18:00 Saturday), event organisers were picking up litter from the event site and said that they would be walking the route that evening and again on Sunday. It was a busy day in the park with non-event attendees, and debris from park user picnics was evident on Saturday morning when we arrived onsite at 7 am. A site handover was done Monday morning, and there were two bags of plastic bottles from the event which were left next to park bins and in agreement with Lambeth Landscaping they would be removed (at cost) by the landscaping team. Other debris in the park was attributed to picnics by park users and confirmed by parks officers. It should also be noted that this weekend was windy which experience shows will blow litter that is left onsite by all park users. No additional street cleaning was required for this event.
Arrangements for St Matthew’s Project:
With regards to the use of the fields between the Bowling Green and the Playground/Ponds by the St Matthews Project, it is unfortunate that the Councils events service were not made aware of a local arrangement to use the area. Information about events are circulated weekly to all key stakeholders, but due to staff changes within the Council, this arrangement with the St Matthew’s Project had not been formally communicated. We have been informed by colleagues in Parks and Sports that they have been working closely with St Matthew’s Project to formalise the arrangement currently in place and this has been implemented in the last few weeks. We have been informed that it has never been an ad-hoc arrangement as there is regular play in this location but wasn’t on officially designated pitches. Now that events are aware of this there shouldn’t be any issues going forward with a clash in activity and use of the same spaces. We also ask that the Brockwell Park Community Partners to share the weekly events information with all members of the BPCP, so that if there are any issues or concerns regarding proposed events we can be notified and address them in advance. Should any other members of the BPCP want to be included on the mailing list, please let us know, and we would be happy to include them.
Communications between the Councils event service, internal colleagues, key stakeholders and partners:
Each week the Councils events service email goes to all colleagues and partners with details of proposed and confirmed events planned for our parks and open spaces. It’s a time for all who have an invested interest to check what is proposed and raise concerns and seek further information. The events teams are a small, professional and very friendly bunch of people who are open to all discussions. It should also be noted that on Friday 10th March a Brockwell Park specific programme was sent to the BPCP for circulation before their meeting the following week. We need our residents and partners to help provide us with the information we may not have locally on the ground. We are on site at events from the early hours in the morning to the late hours at night and at times some testing and difficult situations, with on call and event telephones numbers available to the public. What we will not tolerate is Council officers being spoken to in an aggressive manner at public meetings, on site at an event in a park or anyone trying to obstruct us or our authorised event organisers in performing their duties to safely deliver an event.
There are lessons to be learnt and taken on board all round and we will continue to work to avoid similar problems occurring in the park. We also have to consider what is helpful to the Council and what is unhelpful. We are fully supportive and understand freedom of speech and that everyone has the right to publish their thoughts and concerns on social media about events, but it doesn’t help when this is misinformation. Time-consuming verification make it near impossible for the events team to compete with social media’s speed which in the end takes up many hours of officer time. It helps everyone if we can receive direct communication either by email or phone. We do have information online for anyone wanting to contact the events team direct during working hours and on call during events or to speak to the Councils customer services.
The Nesting Swans:
The events team sought advice from Dr Boulton around the allegations that the event had disturbed the nesting swans so that we could understand what considerations and accommodations would need to be made. His advice was “Urban swans are fairly tolerant of people and especially so in parks; so long as nobody has intentionally approached them or their nests, or denied them access to their nests or feeding grounds, then they normally ignore any human activity passing by them… The main causes of swans, and indeed other large waterfowl, nesting or successfully breeding is often dogs, foxes, crows or direct human trespass including vandals. Also, swans who create nests on the banks of ponds are always at far greater risk of such forms of disturbance than those who have nests on isolated islands, for obvious reasons. You can’t tell swans to nest in the safest places, so if they nest in less appropriate locations, well that’s nature for you – and obviously you can’t physically relocate the nest to somewhere safer as that’s patently illegal!”
We note that tweets from the BPMAC Twitter account on Sunday and today have referred to the Swans nesting and preparing for egg laying, so are reassured that the previous allegations of disturbance have not come to fruition. We will, of course, ensure that event activity is aware of the nesting swans now, that we are aware and continue to seek clarification from Dr Boulton and his park colleagues around the particular considerations that need to be made as we do when other points are raised to us.
For more information on events in parks, open spaces and highways, please contact the Events team on 02079266207 or email: Events@lambeth.gov.uk