Over 10,000 would attend events planned for this September
July 5, 2021
A weekend of festivals could soon come to Morden Park, but locals are worried after there were four stabbings at a festival in the park in 2019.
Slammin Events wants to host 10,000 people for the Beautiful People and Southbound festivals at the Merton park in September.
But a three-hour council meeting heard from concerned residents, police and local councillors on Wednesday.
They were worried there would be a repeat of the violence at the Eastern Electrics Festival in 2019, where four men were stabbed within six hours.
Locals had raised concerns about the 2019 festival before it took place, following experiences of antisocial behaviour and noise complaints from the previous year.
Bur Matthew Phipps, a solicitor working on behalf of Slammin Events, opened with the words “this event is not Eastern Electrics” at the Merton Council licensing meeting last Wednesday night (30 June).
Phipps said, “I make that point right at the outset because my concern is that the previous concerns are obscuring the merits of this application and this applicant.”
The solicitor insisted that the type of music on offer would not attract the same crowd as Eastern Electrics.
“It will not be the range of music that was experienced in the previous events in Morden, the audience profile is 30-55,” he added.
“Clearly the age profile compared to the previous Morden event is significantly different.”
The two festivals have previously taken place in Crystal Palace Park and Finsbury Park.
But Heather Oliver, a lawyer for the police, said that the force wanted a higher security ratio of one security officer to 50 people, rather than the proposed one to 70. The lawyer added that police also wanted the event’s capacity to be capped at 5,000.
Ms Oliver said that the applicant cannot differentiate between their festival and previous events in the park.
She said, “There ought to be wariness on behalf of the committee at the confidence which the applicant can differentiate between the proposed festival and that which has gone before.
“It is very difficult to be that confident. On the face of it they are very similar events at the same location and are likely to attract a similar demographic in audience.
“There is an overlap between the artists on the line up. The promotional material features young people and presents at a very similar way as Eastern Electrics.
“That experience provides relevant background and we say you cannot ignore that context and shows intrinsic problems in this location with large-scale events.”
Local resident Elspeth Clarke agreed, and also raised concerns about coronavirus rates rising as a result of the festival.
She said: “Looking at Covid, infection rates are rocketing. How anyone can even consider an event taking place I find quite extraordinary.
“We’ve already had more than enough Covid cases in Merton we don’t need to invite any more in. Please, on the grounds of common sense alone, refuse this application.”
Pippa Maslin, who lives on the Hatfield Mead Estate across the road from the park, was a strong opposer of the previous festivals.
She said: “You’ve made it abundantly clear that you want to distance yourself from Eastern Electrics… If you really want to to distance yourself I would urge you to consider what you are doing for this local community.”
If approved, the festivals will run on Saturday, 4 September from 12-10.30pm and on the following day from 12-10pm.
Merton Council is set to issue its decision in writing in the coming days.
Tara O'Connor - Local Democracy Reporter