Following complaints from residents of Mayfair, it seems that Westminster City Council is on the verge of scrapping one of London’s biggest open-air music festivals – Hyde Park.
Calls to limit the number of major concerts, ban dance acts and reduce noise levels have put the future of the venue in question, leading rock stars, celebrities and even politicians to launch a campaign to have the decision reversed. Figures including Blur guitarist Graham Coxon, TV presenter Ben Fogle and London’s mayor Boris Johnson have all warned that imposed limitations would kill off concerts altogether.
London-based firm SSC Marketing, and its managing director Sophinna Asif, have been watching the story unfold with interest. “I can see the point the local residents have,” said Ms Asif. “Living next door to a big rock festival cannot be easy. But at the same time, Hyde Park is a major event that is fast becoming a mainstay of the UK’s festival run. Losing it could be bad for the British music scene.”
This sentiment seemed to be echoed by John Giddings – whose company ‘Solo Productions’ represents artists including Madonna, U2, David Bowie and the Rolling Stones. Mr Giddings has reportedly told London newspaper The Evening Standard that he would advise his clients to never play Hyde Park again if the council forces bands to turn down the volume. Other stars within the music industry have branded the council as “killjoys”, while Mayor Johnson urged Westminster to consider “the consequences” to the city’s economy.
There are even some people within the Royal Parks Agency who are opposed to the council’s proposed axing of the music festival. The Evening Standard reports that Colin Buttery, acting Royal Parks chief executive, said: “Hyde Park is so important, it would be awful if we could not put on events activities.”
Another spokesman within the Royal Parks Agency said that “such dramatic restrictions on sound levels would result in the cancellation of all concerts in Hyde Park this year and beyond” adding that the proposal would also lead to “the cancellation of the London Live programme during the Olympics events . . . “
SSC’s MD agrees. “Let’s not forget the 2012 Olympics, and the benefits of all events – sporting and otherwise – connected with them. And that must obviously include the Hyde Park event.”
But local resident Karen Scarborough, whose Connaught Square home is adjacent to Hyde Park, offers a different point-of-view. “I can hear the concerts at the same volume as if I was there in the front row,” Ms Scarborough told the Evening Standard.
SSC’s managing director understands. “It can be easy for supporters of the festival to overlook the concerns of the residents of Mayfair. But there has to be an easier way then imposing crippling guidelines which could chase the bigger names away from the event. If other cities can find a balance then so can London.”