Barnet Post

Barnet Post

Oak Hill Park festivals 'cancelled' following local anger

Controversial events still being advertised but local MP claims they will not go ahead

Hero for Oak Hill Park festivals 'cancelled' following local anger
Oak Hill Park is known for its wildlife

Two music festivals planned for Oak Hill Park during the August bank holiday weekend will not now take place there, according to local politicians.Two music festivals planned for Oak Hill Park during the August bank holiday weekend will not now take place there, according to local politicians.

Chipping Barnet MP Theresa Villiers and former councillor Felix Byers told residents via email that the K-Pop Festival and Sun City in the Park would be moved to a different location.Chipping Barnet MP Theresa Villiers and former councillor Felix Byers told residents via email that the K-Pop Festival and Sun City in the Park would be moved to a different location.

The announcements came after residents warned the events could damage the East Barnet park and cause disruption to neighbours if they went ahead as planned on the weekend of 27th-28th August.The announcements came after residents warned the events could damage the East Barnet park and cause disruption to neighbours if they went ahead as planned on the weekend of 27th-28th August.

Barnet Council was contacted before the local election on 5th May but declined to comment. The council will now be run by Labour following the group's election win. As of 10th May, both festivals were still being marketed as taking place at Oak Hill Park.Barnet Council was contacted before the local election on 5th May but declined to comment. The council will now be run by Labour following the group's election win. As of 10th May, both festivals were still being marketed as taking place at Oak Hill Park.

An email sent by Villiers on 3rd May quoted former council leader Dan Thomas as stating that “the organisers of the August bank holiday event in Oak Hill Park have notified the council they will not be holding the event at Oak Hill Park and are seeking an alternative venue in a different area”.An email sent by Villiers on 3rd May quoted former council leader Dan Thomas as stating that “the organisers of the August bank holiday event in Oak Hill Park have notified the council they will not be holding the event at Oak Hill Park and are seeking an alternative venue in a different area”.

The email from then-councillor Byers, who lost his seat in the election last week, goes into more detail. Sent on 29th April, it states that the plans for the festivals “were unprecedented, and had evolved in discussions with the event organisers without any prior notification to or consultation with local councillors or the local community in East Barnet”.The email from then-councillor Byers, who lost his seat in the election last week, goes into more detail. Sent on 29th April, it states that the plans for the festivals “were unprecedented, and had evolved in discussions with the event organisers without any prior notification to or consultation with local councillors or the local community in East Barnet”.

It adds that after raising the issue with council officers and the leader of the council, Byers and fellow councillor Nicole Richer “were initially given the impression that terms were still subject to contract”, but it in fact turned out there was a “legally binding agreement between the council and the organisers for these events to take place in Oak Hill Park”.It adds that after raising the issue with council officers and the leader of the council, Byers and fellow councillor Nicole Richer “were initially given the impression that terms were still subject to contract”, but it in fact turned out there was a “legally binding agreement between the council and the organisers for these events to take place in Oak Hill Park”.

The email continues: “It was immediately resolved at a political level then, although more complicated, to do whatever necessary to stop the events.The email continues: “It was immediately resolved at a political level then, although more complicated, to do whatever necessary to stop the events.

“There has been a period of intense commercial renegotiation since to relocate the events out of Oak Hill Park. Because of the commercially and legally sensitive nature of the discussions, I and other councillors have been unable to say much more over the last couple of weeks. We could not unilaterally state that the events would not take place in Oak Hill Park without risking the council’s legal and commercial position - and thereby, the potential cost to taxpayers.“There has been a period of intense commercial renegotiation since to relocate the events out of Oak Hill Park. Because of the commercially and legally sensitive nature of the discussions, I and other councillors have been unable to say much more over the last couple of weeks. We could not unilaterally state that the events would not take place in Oak Hill Park without risking the council’s legal and commercial position - and thereby, the potential cost to taxpayers.

“I am now happy to confirm, however, that, having directed officers earlier this month to resolve this mess, these events will not take place in Oak Hill Park.”“I am now happy to confirm, however, that, having directed officers earlier this month to resolve this mess, these events will not take place in Oak Hill Park.”

Both emails state that the community-based East Barnet Festival can go ahead in the park as planned.Both emails state that the community-based East Barnet Festival can go ahead in the park as planned.

The organisers of both festivals have not responded to comment requests.The organisers of both festivals have not responded to comment requests.