Kilburn Grange Olympic Irish festival causing concern

Early last week a licence application was brought to my attention. Vince Power – music promoter and owner of Power’s bar in Kilburn – has applied to hold a Feis Village in Kilburn Grange Park. A Feis is an Irish cultural and music festival (Power held one in Finsbury Park last year that attracted big name performers including Van Morrison and Bob Dylan). So far so good.

Here’s the catch: he wants to run it for the entire duration of the Olympics: from July 26th to August 12th, i.e., for just over two weeks, and is also requesting a 2am licence at the weekends (of which there are three in that period). Local residents (those within 250m of the site) were invited to a meeting in The Black Lion on February 14th to discuss it, although ward councillor Mike Katz only found out about it that day and was unable to attend. Vince Power has since extended an invitation to meet Cllr Katz to discuss it further.

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The reaction to the idea on Twitter has not been overwhelmingly positive.

The licence application has a lot of documentation, much of which relates to security (Vince isn’t asking or expecting the local police to be required – all the security will be provided). The application is for up to 5,000 people at any given time, and places a lot of emphasis on the organisers wanting flexibility as the precise schedule for the festival has not been agreed, so they would not necessarily use the late licence. There is also a request for Camden to dispense with the traditional maximum noise level limits although the venues used for comparison are much larger parks such as Hyde Park.

Here’s the event overview and audience profile, taken verbatim from the application (bold sections, my highlights):

Event Overview
2.1 The Feis Village 2012 is based on an already established contemporary Irish music Event, the Fleadh Festival which was launched 22 years ago. The Event was re-launched last year as the London Feis Festival.

2.2 Spanning 18 days during the London 2012 Olympic Games period from the 26th July-12th August in Grange Park Kilburn, with the aim of offering a centre for Irish culture and entertainment during this exciting time. The operational hours of 11:00-02:00 has been applied for in order to give us flexibility and offer a variation in programming and entertainment each evening. We would not look to stay open until the maximum licensed hour each night just to have the flexibility to choose which days the event is open later.

2.3 Musical Entertainment will be provided on some of the days, other days will have comedy and other forms of low-level entertainment. This entertainment will take place on a temporary stage within a Big Top structure. We would be requesting permission to have a live stream of the Olympic Games at the Feis Village, showing key Irish games and events of interest.

2.4 The Big Top will have an audience viewing capacity of 5,000. The venue will be managed by our team and capacity will be monitored by the security team and crowds monitored continuously. A copy of the site plan is available as a separate document which shows the lay-out of the stage and venue. Live music will always finish at 23:00.

2.5 The event site will open to the public at 11.00 on most days – but this will be TBC in line with the entertainment schedule. There will be low-level entertainment, food and drinks on offer during the day. With live music entertainment starting late afternoon / early evening. This will not be on every night of the event and all live music will be finishing at 23.00. We would request the flexibility within the license to be able to stay open late on some nights, in line with key Irish Olympic events and provide low-level entertainment and serve food and drink until 02:00 on some nights. We will be looking at the public transport schedule and will ensure that the entertainment schedule is in-line with this. We would look for the flexibility to have the bars open until 02:00 on some nights, with the site cleared by 0230 and the site secured. We would look to close everything an hour earlier on Sundays.

2.6 Entry will be strictly by ticket only, and a secure perimeter will be established around the Park site. A system will be implemented for clearly identifying legitimate ticket holders by means of secure wristband. We would work to a maximum capacity on site at any one time of 5,000, but this would most likely be spread over the day due to the varied programming of the entertainment.

2.7 Tickets will be sold as separate day tickets and in combinations. We would look into the option of having a separate day ticket and an evening ticket to enable us to clear the site. Ticket combinations are currently TBC as is ticket pricing.

2.8 Disabled tickets will be available that will give free access for the career. Under 12 tickets will be free when accompanied by a full paying adult. We will be offering a reduced price ticket for locals who live within a certain distance to the park.

2.9 There will also be a hospitality area for around 250 seated guests. This area will be controlled via a distinctive wristband and will remain open after the main event closes. This is where we would look to have bars and low-level entertainment until 02:00 for this limited number of guests.

Audience Profile
3.1 Information indicating the performers is included in Appendix 1. This Appendix will be updated regularly as contracts are signed and acts are confirmed for the bill. Currently these acts are TBC.

3.2 The audience profiles for both event days is expected to be is predominantly mid 20’s to mid 50 year olds, with an even gender split and often in couples, small peer groups and large percentage of families, partially during the day. Whilst the music will be of a broad appeal it will be mainly Irish Folk style music. The audience profile will be broadly similar and of little variation across all event days.

3.3 A large proportion of the audience is expected to be people who live locally to the area.

3.4 Under 16’s will not be permitted on site, unless accompanied by a person of 18 years or over. No more than two Under 16’s will be allowed to enter with any one designated adult. Under 12’s will be permitted to the event free of charge but will have to be allocated a FOC ticket that can be obtained when booking a full adult ticket. Only 2 FOC children’s tickets can be allocated to each adult ticket.

3.5 None of the acts booked are liable to lead to crowd conflict or “tribalism”, or of concerns regarding excessively boisterous behavior, “moshing” or “crowd surfing”.

Here’s how the park would look during the festival (the writing is just about legible if you click for full-size version), followed by a photo of last year’s Kilburn Festival (which is currently due to take place this year on July 8th).

The Big Top is the large stadium-shaped bit in the middle
2011 Kilburn Festival (stage behind camera)

The objections are fairly obvious: too late, too noisy, and goes on for too long. The local Conservatives have already churned out a response, in which none other than London Assembly member Brian Coleman says that “Music festivals are good but an 18 day event in a park in a residential area in the summer goes too far.” It may well be that a majority of people agree with that perspective. The deadline for making representations to Camden is March 12th, and you can post them online.

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The full documentation can be found here, and below are selected pages from the draft noise evaluation appendix, with sections highlighted by me.
Draft Noise Appraisal for Kilburn Feis 2012 Licence