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Residents say no to Victoria Park events
THE MESSAGE was loud and clear at a residents' meeting in Finchley last night - Victoria Park is not for hire.
About 65 park neighbours and users gathered at St Paul's Church last night to plan a campaign to oppose Barnet Council's proposal to hire out Victoria Park for private events.
The park has been identified as one of eight pilot sites to be hired out for functions such as weddings and bar mitzvahs between April and July each year.
Resident Brian Plen chaired the meeting, which called for legal advice, circulated a petition and distributed information on where to send letters of opposition.
Concerns were raised not only about the safety and environmental implications of the plans, but also of the way the consultation has been carried out.
"Many homes have not been mailed or notified. We're not sure the council has been as thorough as it should be," Mr Plen said.
West Finchley ward councillor Jim Tierney stated that even he had not been directly notified by council officers about the proposal.
"We definitely weren't consulted," he said.
Cllr Tierney was the only councillor of nine for the area who attended the meeting.
Reverend Nicholas Pye, Vicar of St Paul’s Finchley, said the church had not been directly consulted about the plans either.
One resident queried whether surrounding streets would be cleaned as well as the park following an event: "Will we have to wake up in the morning smelling vomit on our street - it's not very pleasant."
Julia Fidler, of Parkside Road, said she was concerned that health and safety aspects had not been considered, questioning whether the park could become infested with rats.
Her neighbour, Fred Sansom said: "It will fundamentally change the nature of the park.
"Either it's a park or it's for sale to whoever cares to pay the council some money."
Richard Simmonds, of Etchingham Park Road, has only lived in the area for a few months: “I live opposite the park and it is one of the reasons I moved in to the area,” he said.
“This proposal goes against every reason we wanted to move here.
“My concerns are primarily that of parking and safety aspects because there simply aren't enough parking spaces available.
"I'm concerned about kids crossing to get to the children's playground and the elderly."
Rev Pye added:"We hope that Barnet Council will take account of what has been said today. We recognise the Council’s desire to make the best use of Victoria Park, but feel strongly that it should not take its plans forward any further until it has listened fully to the views of the local community.”
Consultation on the proposal is open until January 16.