By Toby Porter
Campaigners have staged a picnic protest against three festivals this summer on Clapham Common.
Parts of the common will be fenced off under an agreement between Lambeth council and Festival Republic, to accommodate the events over the August Bank Holiday.
Friends of Clapham Common (FCC) claim the council’s contract is illegal – as it has not been approved by Environment Secretary George Eustace.
The group have held a protest from Monday August 16, to express their concerns over 40,000 tickets being sold for each event.
They say last year’s events damaged the ground – so the council had to fence off huge areas of the common from September 2020-June 2021 for the newly seeded grass to recover.
They say the grass is still fragile, and cannot withstand 40,000 festival visitors a day over the August Bank Holiday weekend.
An online petition calling for Lambeth to stop exploiting the common for commercial gain recently received over 3,000 signatures.
Shirley Kermer, Chair of the Friends of Clapham Common, said the group would take legal action to prevent the festivals going ahead.
She said: “The flagrant breach of law by Lambeth Council is astonishing. We are determined to use the Courts to hold them to account. We would urge campaigners who work to protect their local Commons to join us in our fight.”
A Lambeth council spokesman said: “Planning permissions have been secured for this year’s temporary events, and we have followed well established practise.
“We are in dialogue with the Planning Inspectorate about permission to put up temporary structures for the event.
“We will ensure that any wear and tear to the events section of the common is quickly repaired, and have also secured a further £63,000 to spend on improving parks in Clapham.
“Music events have been held on Clapham Common for decades and are part of our local cultural scene.
“This year’s events, including Yam Carnival which celebrates Black culture, are supported by the local business community and will draw large numbers of people both from Lambeth and further afield.
“Following the Covid-19 pandemic events of this nature play an important role in our local economic recovery.”
FCC’s fundraiser for possible court action against the council is at https://ourcommon.co.uk/
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