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Tuesday, 6 September 2016

"Clapham Common: even longer, noisier events" Tories say. If only....

When the music's over....After three days of music festivals attended by tens of thousands of fans, the grass of Clapham Common looked in surprisingly good nick.
A new free sheet dropped through the letterbox last week, with a big headline on the front page: "Clapham Common - Even longer, noisier events". Arriving just before the annual SW4 dance music fest that usually turns most of the common into a mudbath. But this year it did not rain, and there was a third day of music - the Madness "House of Common" reggae festival - tacked onto the end, using the same arena and stages.

The rain came after the festivals, so less than a week later the Common looked like nothing at all had happened there.

This paper - Clapham Matters - turns out to be  just a new version of the local Tory party's newsheet, hence making big news out of the latest flare-up in a very long running battle over what Clapham Common should be used for and who should decide. The headline in fact refers to a Lambeth Council plan to stage more events on the common next year, which was very old news by the middle of August when this paper arrived on our doormat.

Its events strategy, agreed on July 15, would allow up to eight major events (that it, likely to attract over 20,000 people) next year. It also proposes raising the maximum permitted volume of music.
Shock horror! (yaaawn...)

If you've read other posts on this blog you'll know I'm not Lambeth Council's biggest fan, especially on its libraries and housing policies. But if this rather dull, flat wide open bit of land can raise a lot of money to help fund better community services then I am all for it.

Red rags to the bulls of Clapham Tories, The Friends of Clapham Common, and Tory-led Wandsworth Council, all of whom are up in arms about what this will mean for their voters - the generally pretty damn stinking rich people who live in the big houses and apartments flanking wide open spaces.

Well, I live about 5 minutes walk from the common so think I have right to a view as well. I love the Lambeth Country Show in Brockwell Park and wish we had similar free events on Clapham Common. I'm far too old for the EDM of SW4 but if it raises plenty of dosh for the council, so be it. I was around for part of that weekend and witnesed no serious anti-social behaviour. It was actually  rather good to see so many smiley young clubber types pouring across the common.

I have to say I am more worried about the way every weekend of the year the common is infested with the so-called military fitness groups of poor lycra clad souls being shouted at by bulked-up blokes in fatigues. How much does the council make out of these highly commercial and deeply unsightly activiti

Does it charge commercial dog walkers? I know this will be unpopular but I think we're past the cur-to-human ratio tipping point. On any given weekday morning there seem to be about 6 dogs per human on the common. Even if they clear up all the crap, they don't  actually wash the grass, do they?

So - more paying music events, fine, let's have a wider range of music. Remember all those great open air concerts of the 80s, anti-Apartheid, CND, the reggae sunsplash, Archaos, and an event which, if I remember rightly, involved Transglobal Underground and Skunk Anansie and a lot of others out of the warehouse rave scene.

It is a Common, for heaven's sake, not a precious botanical garden or a private field for dog-walkers and sports lovers.

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