It has now been confirmed by licensing experts that H&F Council:
- did not have to apply for these licenses in this way in order to continue to run the fireworks party, the opera or the fair
- did not have to apply for generic, all-encompassing licences giving it permission to put on a wide array of events in Ravenscourt and Bishops parks each night and every night until late
- did not have to apply to put on wrestling and boxing events in order to run its current activities
- could have submitted different licence applications that would have maintained the public’s right to be consulted for each event
- could have given the public a right to influence the timings of all events in the park
- could even have applied for Premises Licences that just covered the fireworks, the opera and the fair
- could then have applied for a Variation to the Licences if the Council wanted to put on any extra events - requiring it to undertake a public consultation each time it did wished to do this.
I understand that these two applications were discussed by the Conservative Cabinet at length. They allegedly decided to go for these licenses because they wanted the freedom that these open licensing applications would give them and because it’s much cheaper not to have to consult the public each time they want to put on a late night activity in one of the parks.
While I’m normally in favour of cost cutting I would suggest that democracy doesn’t come cheap and that the Administration should not have sought to curtail the public’s right to be consulted for each event.
The Council hurriedly sent out a Q&A sheet on Friday evening which you can read for Ravenscourt Park here and Bishops Park here. However, they duck many of the central questions raised by local residents.
I understand that H&F’s local Conservative politicians have been chastened by the public's reaction and have contacted many objectors asking them to trust them to manage park events responsibly. However, this trust would not be necessary if the Conservative Administration maintained the public’s legal rights to be consulted and their rights to object to each event - instead of trying to abolish those rights.
I am grateful to all those people who wrote in to express their views, it has certainly had an impact. I will attend the Licensing Committee to argue the points raised by local residents and will post something to let people know the date it is to take place as soon as I find out. Members of the public are allowed to attend. Please email me here if you have any views to express.