Picture the scene.... Sunday afternoon, the sun attempting to make an appearance between the showers. Time to have a nice relaxing time by the river, sitting in our newly refurbished Potters Fields park...
But wait... what is this? fences, cordons, security men in dark glasses? oh no, yet ANOTHER corporate shindig has taken over our park. This time, it's an advert for some tinpot Vauxhall car.
WHO allowed this to happen? WHY is our public space being taken away from us all the time? And why is there no one I can complain to?
After the fiasco that was David Blaine, the residents of Tower Bridge were given big promises that we would have a park that we could use. What happened to those promises?
Those of us who choose to live in the centre of a city don't ask for much, but a bit of open green space that we can sit on.... isn't too much to ask, is it?
I agree, but then I thought the German xmas fair that was on it was tacky and too commercial, it even had an asian food stand I think! But the park isn't a true public space. It appears that the riverside in front of More London, and the park aren't actually public spaces at all. Some of it's private and some is run by a "Trust". We are lucky they let us walk there at all aren't we!
Southwark Council owns the freehold to Potters Fields Park but in order to attract LDA funding for the refurbishment (and ensure its upkeep) it has given the land on a long lease to the Potters Fields Park Management Trust which comprises representatives of the council, GLA, local businesses and residents.
The trust generates its income from events in the park.
This 'summer' has seen an increasing limitation on Southwark ratepayers to freely enjoy the space offered by the newly regenerated Potters Field and now I read James Hatts' response I am smelling something a bit fishy. Isn't Potters Fields primarily for public use? How can this be when so often at the weekends, security men and barriers prevent us from enjoying the space. Is this a public space or not? Who - as in which individuals- are in charge of who - as in which corporates - get to close it off for private use? It's all terribly exciting, but this morning I was made to feel an uninvited guest in my local park. How can I invite family and friends to picnic in Potters Field if I am prevented from doing so because of a car launch. A CAR launch of all things! Something is not right about this arrangment
James Hatts is right. Southwark makes no contribution to the maintenance cost (which is considerable) for the Potters Fields Park and the Potters Fields Management Trust (a non-profit-making organisation) relies entirely on the revenue it can generate from hiring out the area.
Anyone who wants to could write to the Council suggesting it pays for the maintenance of the Park, and increases Council Tax accordingly.
I think the park is great (the garden area now looks superb), and now the litter issue noted on previous threads has been resolved, I do wish the Trust well.
However, whilst it must raise money for the upkeep of the space, I think it is important for the Trust to pay due regard to its "public" function. Using the park for corporate events which exclude Joe and Jane Public seems to me to miss the point entirely.
Events like glitzey uber-car launches may come and go whilst raising crucial cash, but they cause annoyance and resentment at the same time. I think some reconsideration of priorities is needed here by the Trust. This time they have gone a crashed space module too far..............
This is what I was afraid of all along. When Gross Max first proposed their designs for the regeneration of Potters Fields, there was the fear that their design was trying to be "all things to all people", with lots of expensive gimmicks.
Since the management and upkeep of the park was to be transferred to a self-maintaining trust, the overriding goal should have been to design a park that could be maintained relatively cheaply. That way, there wouldn't have been the need for so many corporate events to Balance the books.
We find ourselves in a situation where the park looks pretty during the week, but is taken over by corporate events far too often for it to be considered a true "public" space.
Can anyone give a specific name that I can talk to that has responsibility over the park? Who manages the Potters Fields Management Trust?
I'm on the Shad Thames Residents Association, and we have a member on the Trust's Board. (Not me).
It's a pity that the running of the Trust isn't better understood, as from what I've seen it really does try to take all these diverging views into account.
There is no mystery as to how the Park is run; the trust appoints an individual who is responsible for ensuring that enough monies are raised each year to maintain it to the high standard it needs - the footfall of visitors is, I think, in the millions each year.
I imaging getting the Balance right will always be difficult and controversial, but at a recent public meeting with the Park director it was clear that he was trying to get the Balance right between big, high paying events (like Vauxhall) and smaller community based ones. The obvious conclusion was that basically a small number of high paying events was probably better than lots of low paying events every weekend. (And there haven't been any repeats of David Blane since it took over).
And at this time of year its clear this isn't and never will be a local park in the traditional sense; its a major tourist location, and we have to accept that fact. Getting that Balance right is always going to cause a lively debate.
But I personally think the Trust is showing that it's trying to get the Balance right, is generating the revenue to maintain the park far better than Southwark would be able, and is open comments and opinions.
But I suspect there will be those who disagree with me...
I know hindsight is a wonderful thing, and I'm also aware we can't turn the clock back and change certain decisions... but surely the huge expense of maintaining the park could have been foreseen?
The garden area does indeed look superb, but requires a lot of expenditure to keep it looking superb.
I suppose what angered me most about the Vauxhall stunt was the whole exclusive attitude of the thing. I tried to ask what the event was for on Sunday, and I was told "Sorry, we are not allowed to say, so don't ask!", so I asked someone else and was met with the same response. For heavens sake, we live here... it is OUR park you're taking away from us every weekend! At least give us the decency of treating us with respect when you take away OUR public space.
I do not buy into the argument that because it is next to tourist attraction we should live with corporations taking precedence over our space. It is (or rather, was) a PUBLIC place... a bit of green space by the river...
As a starting point, the forthcoming events list on the Potters Fields Park Events & Activities page of the London Bridge BID's website could give an indication of which events will close the park in whole or part, as this must surely be known to them!