The Nene Park Trust has been given a licence to use Ferry Meadows Country Park as a venue for up to 5000 people to see concerts plays and other events. Locals are uneasy but James McCullock Chief Executive allays their fears. Broadcast at 07:36 on Tuesday 6th July 2010 in the Peterborough Breakfast Show hosted by Paul Stainton on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.
PAUL: Shakespeare, films and concerts could soon be a familiar sight. The Nene Park Trust has been granted a premises licence by the City Council, allowing them to stage events for up to five thousand people. Well the news wasn’t taken too well by the fifty or so naysayers who attended yesterday’s meeting to hear the Council’s decision. It went something like this. (OB) (TAPE)
PUBLIC: I live very close to Ferry Meadows and love it. My concerns are the uncertainties. They get permission to do certain things. They get the taste of an income stream and it grows bigger and bigger. But the real concern is about what we call capacity. It’s supposed to be limited to five thousand people, for any events that are going to be organised, and that’s fine. But it also includes those who are on the Park already. So you’ve got perhaps two thousand on the Park, plus five thousand. How do you control that?
PUBLIC: I think it’s been too swift a decision. I think they should have at least delayed the process and allowed people who had concerns to talk to each other a bit more. Because this has been very very quickly done in our opinion, and most people didn’t know about the application anyway.
PUBLIC: We’re sandwiched between Ferry Meadows and The Showground. The Showground has noisy events, so we don’t want to have it on both sides. That’s one of my concerns. Litter is another concern. I’m a totally blind person. I can’t see when there’s a broken bottle or a jagged can for my dog to step on.
PUBLIC: My concerns are really noise pollution, just the impact in the area from the noise which is going to be uncontrollable to be quite honest.
PUBLIC: I’m not completely surprised people weren’t aware that they had to make representations within very specific areas. And I don’t think, given the time given, that people were able to collate their views and form a cohesive representation. (LIVE) (STUDIO)
PAUL: Some of the residents then who attended yesterday’s meeting to hear the Council’s decision. Not very happy, could it be a winter of their discontent? Chief Executive of the Nene Park Trust is James McCullock. He’s on the line now. James, to be or not to be?
JAMES: Well to be Paul I think after yesterday’s decision. It’s not surprising that we got the turnout and some of the comments we got yesterday. And in a way it’s good, because people care so passionately about Ferry Meadows, and that’s what we know already. And these are people who live nearby, and they use it every day, and they want to make sure it’s not going to be spoilt or changed. But hopefully what we were able to do was reassure them that this isn’t about radical change, this is just about enhancing the events programme that we already run in Ferry Meadows. We run about a hundred events there so far, and all the licence now grants us is the opportunity to include music and performance in that, when it’s appropriate to do so. And that’s something that thousands of our visitors are already telling us that they would like to see, and a number of our charities and community groups would like to hold in the Park. But we listened very carefully to what the residents had to say yesterday, and we’ve been talking to them well over the last month or so, to try and understand their concerns. I think it will be fine, but we just need to keep talking to them and reassuring them.
PAUL: Now I don’t live within that area, and obviously I don’t share the concerns of those residents who have valid ones obviously. But as somebody who’s been in the city since nineteen eighty something I’d quite like to see Shakespearean plays in Ferry Meadows. I think it’s a perfect venue.
JAMES: Yes it’s one of the key things that’s come out in our new ten year strategy, and it’s about not just improving the quality of what we already do. The most important thing is that the landscape and the quiet natural aspect of the Park isn’t altered. We won’t do that. But we can accomodate larger events in the Park. We can accomodate different events, such as the Shakespeare, such as the films, such as the concerts, without any detrimental effect on the Park. So I think ..
PAUL: I suppose the fear is that they’ll attract hundreds and hundreds and thousands of people, like Firework Fiesta, and the noise will be unbearable for the residents.
JAMES: Yes that was one of the comments that came out strongly yesterday. But hopefully we were able to reassure them that with every event a great deal of planning goes into it to make sure that it’s tightly controlled by the Trust team, and also the event organisers, to minimise the disturbance to people who live around the Park.
PAUL: Right. And noise levels can be monitored can they? Tannoy systems are the bane of modern day life, aren’t they, for people around large arenas and places where concerts take place?
JAMES: Absolutely. And in the licence we were granted yesterday we have built in noise limits and time limits we have to abide by. And we’ll make sure the event organisers do that, and we’ll be monitoring it as well, as I’m sure some of the local residents will be and quite rightly. They need to let us know if they have any concerns.
PAUL: The residents were saying yesterday as well they’ve not been consulted enough.
JAMES: Yes you know it’s always disappointing when you get that feedback. Because what we’re required to do legally for this licence is do a twenty eight day consultation and a very small advert in the local paper. And we actually went further than that. We did a big press release, and we attended a meeting and put out various things on our website, and on site. But still you can’t reach everybody. And that’s disappointing, and I think that was some of their frustration yesterday. But we will try and now work with residents to look at better ways of communicating with them. And in fact one of the things that came up yesterday was that residents are now interested in forming a Friends of Ferry Meadows, which is something we’d very much support.
PAUL: And what sort of things can we look forward to very quickly?
JAMES: Well very very briefly the next event, our first event, August the Seventh, a free family concert on the afternoon of Saturday August the Seventh, helicopter rides, small scale funfair rides, and two tribute acts, Take That and Girls Aloud, if I recall correctly. A free event for all the family from about lunchtime, winding up about five o’clock in the evening.
PAUL: Lovely stuff. And we look forward to some Shakespeare.
JAMES: Well in the future maybe. OK.
Nene Park Trust