Southwark Park Sell-off

Southwark Park is slowly being privatised by the council.

‘Alice in Winterland’ sees the whole northern half of the park fenced off for a long term private rent.

What's next? We must stop it now!

Note: This site relates to the event planned to be held in Southwark Park, not the show at the Rose Theatre.

Planning Approval Meeting Tuesday October 30

The planning approval meeting unanimously approved this event with all committee members voting in favour of selling our park. Click on the below photo to see the video of the moment Southwark Council approved the privatisation of a public park.

planning meeting councillor vote

Stop the sell-off. Have YOUR say. Sign the petition.

Click each of the following reasons to see more detail on each.

The Park will be Closed for 10 weeks minimum

Set-up: 7th Nov – 20th Nov 2018

Event: 21st Nov – 6th Jan 2019 From: 3pm – 10pm Capacity 2,000

Clear-up: 7th Jan – 11th Jan 2019

This is a public park paid for by the taxpayer. It should not be closed for private enterprise for 2.5 months. Residents around the park that include Slippers Place and Kirby Estate, Gomm Road, Ann Moss Way, Frankland Close and Benwick Close will be subjected to months of disturbance caused by amplified music and large numbers of visitors (capacity 2,000) every consecutive night, seven days a week. The park has hosted events like the annual fireworks night and the Bermondsey carnival, but these events are only one or two days, not months. The 42 days is more than 11% of the year when the park will be closed. That is a lot. If the organisers and council think the event is a success, this sets a precedent and we will find the park constantly closed for months at a time for private events.

The council cannot sell the park but if they rent it out for most of the year isn't that the same thing?

Email (Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure, Equalities, Communities)

Email (Culture and Events Manager)

Alcohol and Antisocial Behaviour

Alice is to be a licensed event with various bars across the event. A licensed event will attract high levels of antisocial behaviour (ASB) to the area which already suffers considerably from ASB.

  1. Previous events have resulted in muggings at nearby cashpoints and nearby TRA halls as attendees take money out for the event. In the past this has happened as early as 4pm, so not even under the cover of darkness.

  2. Gangs of rowdy youths hanging around the park entrances are intimidating to old people and families with small children as well as locals going about their business.

  3. With a projected capacity of 2,000 it is to be expected that there will be those who either can't wait to use the portaloos or will simply choose to urinate in nearby quiet side streets and in front gardens on their way home. It is socially unacceptable, unhygienic and a potential health hazard.

  4. There is a history of knife crime in the area. Crowds of unruly intoxicated people will not do anything to deter these criminal elements, rather the opposite.

The event organisers will be providing SIA trained security staff within the perimeter of the event, but they cannot control what happens outside the event. Street guides carrying directional signs do not provide any element of security, nor should they be expected to.

Email (Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure, Equalities, Communities)

Email (Culture and Events Manager)

Noise until Closing Time

It is claimed that the noise level will be 'low level noise' but nobody to date from the London Borough of Southwark (LBS) or the organisers have been able to provide the projected decibel level. The noise of 2,000 people talking, the amplified story-telling, the music, PA system, the noise of revellers at the bars will undoubtedly be considerably above background noise. A BBC sound engineer who specialises in outdoor festivals has advised that anything above 40dBA at the park fence will be sufficient to disturb sleepers in the adjacent buildings.

Neither LBS nor the organisers have been able to provide any information as to how they intend to keep the noise levels down, although this is what they are promising. The best they have come up with to date is to say that 'noise levels will be regularly monitored'. This is all very well, but if they cannot even forecast what the noise levels will be, state what uppermost noise level is acceptable and state what process/equipment they will use to monitor the noise levels and how frequently the monitoring will take place, it is utterly meaningless.

For those residents around the park, this could mean 42 sleepless nights in a row.

Email (Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure, Equalities, Communities)

Email (Culture and Events Manager)

Wildlife and Bats Disturbed

No wildlife impact study has been carried out. The park is a designated Site of Importance for Nature Conservation which is also home to a rare species of bat called Nathusiuspipistrelle which will be in hibernation at this time. The noise and lights for this prolonged time during the late evening hours will disturb the hibernating bats and other wildlife. Bats are a protected species and must not be disturbed during hibernation. Locals also enjoy the bat walks in the park and want to protect the wildlife.

Albins Funeral Directors were refused green uplighters in the trees by Southwark Council because it would disturb the bats. So following this logic, the noise (exacerbated by the provision of alcohol) and lights of this prolonged event, should also be refused. However, Southwark Council did not stand to make any money from Albins.

Southwark Council themselves have acknowledged the park is a nature conservation area here. See 'About the park'

Email (Ecology Officer) to ask on what basis he decided an impact study should not take place. Surely the impact study should be done regardless and then action decided on the basis of that?

Email (Culture and Events Manager)

Grass Destroyed and Trees Damaged

Residents have been told that the organisers are putting down a ‘damage deposit’. Nobody has however divulged the amount. Therefore we know already there will be damage. The park is home to wonderful old plane trees to which the giant Alice lanterns will be tightly bound, so they are not disturbed by the wind. The grass will be ruined. Although people may be encouraged to walk on the pavements and there are trakmats etc,. the grass will turn into a sea of mud in the wet weather, what with the trailers, huts, equipment, lorries etc. The question is how much will re-lawning an extensive area of grass cost? Who has surveyed this and costed it to be able to decide that the damage deposit is sufficient? Look at the photos of the park taken on the 17th September 2018 to see the extent of the grassed areas and the lovely condition.

Will locals have to live with a sea of mud for months after the event till the re-lawning can happen?

Winter Wonderland has created a sea of mud in Hyde Park for years. But that area is a small patch of the overall park, Alice proposes to destroy the whole north side of Southwark Park. Photos of affected area

Comparison of impacted area

Email (Ecology Officer)

Email (Culture and Events Manager)

Congestion, Gridlock and Parking

There is currently an issue with severe parking space shortages for local people. To bring 2,000 people into the area every evening is going to cause massive problems not only regarding parking availability but also traffic congestion. Jamaica Road which is one of the principle roads leading to the park carries the accolade of being in the top ten of most congested roads in the UK, let alone London.

Public transport will be promoted as the best method of getting there but even if 10% of the projected 2,000 visitors choose to drive, that already is a huge amount of traffic for an already congested area and no provision can be made to ease this, given the Rotherhithe roundabout and tunnel. There will be endless gridlock plus the related pollution.

The provision of licensed bars will be an attraction that will bring more people to the area than otherwise would attend. This of course, is why it is being proposed.

The roads and streets of Bermondsey do not need an influx of visitors of this magnitude, for this length of time. Certainly not for 42 consecutive days.

Email (Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure, Equalities, Communities)

Email (Culture and Events Manager)

Children Not Getting Home From School Easily

The set-up of Alice means that from 3pm – 10pm the central path through the park will be closed. Parents with tired children who normally walk across the park will now have to make a huge detour around the perimeter of the park in order to get home. Schools close at 3pm. Older children will have to make that longer walk around the park by themselves.

Email (Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure, Equalities, Communities)

Email (Culture and Events Manager)

Just Where Is The Money Going?

Where is the ticket money going? None of it is being channelled back into the park and that is a disgrace. Southwark residents are paying for the upkeep of this lovely Victorian heritage park through their council tax, and will have to pay for the remedial works again, through their council tax if the damage deposit doesn’t cover it. The ticket takings, or a proportion, should be reinvested in the park if it is being used in this fashion. If money is not reinvested into the park and the taxpayer has to pay for any remedial works, this means the taxpayer will lose out on other services because of the increased park costs.

Email (Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure, Equalities, Communities)

Email (Culture and Events Manager)

Lack of Consultation

There has been no real consultation. It is a disgrace stakeholders were not invited to the first consultation meeting in August. It is a disgrace the notices put up about the second meeting were tiny and affixed to areas not easily seen, like behind bins. Additionally, the two email addresses were not correct and neither was the phone number. So many mistakes were made that it appears to many it was deliberate, that stakeholders were not wanted to attend and the whole thing could be railroaded through. This is disgraceful conduct from a council that seeks to profit from our local amenity. Add to this that tickets are already being sold prior to the ‘consultation’ meetings and you get the idea of Southwark’s idea of consultation.

The second stakeholder meeting on the 11th September was a farce. The representatives from the council and organisers were unable to answer any of the questions and concerns of the attendees, largely listed about in points 1 – 8. ‘I don’t know’ was what was heard. A straw poll of the 35 stakeholders (approx. fig) drew a unanimous response that Alice is not wanted in Southwark Park with 3 abstentions.

Email (Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure, Equalities, Communities)

Email (Culture and Events Manager)

Ticket Prices Too High
Under 3:Free
Family of 4:£43.00
Southwark Resident:23% Discount
Park Resident:up to 40% Discount

If you want to go to a really fabulous Christmas event, go to ‘Christmas at Kew’. It’s on a FAR bigger scale. It reads

‘See the Gardens light up for an unforgettable after-dark festive trail of lights. 22 November 2018 to 5 January 2019. Now in its sixth year, our 2018 winter trail will be bigger than ever before, with over a million twinkling pea-lights and thousands of laser beams. Walk under welcoming arches into a world festooned with seasonal cheer and wander beneath unique tree canopies drenched in Christmas colour.’ Go to website

And the ticket prices are virtually the same as Alice:

Under 4:Free
Family of 4:£48.00


Who Are We

We are a large group of local residents determined to keep our only large green public space for the people who pay the taxes and future generations to enjoy without having to pay. Find us on Twitter or email.