Anger over Radio 1’s Hackney Weekend plans

07:51 15 May 2012

American hip-hop superstar Jay-Z

American hip-hop superstar Jay-Z

Archant

A storm has erupted after it emerged a sizeable part of Hackney Marshes will be out of bounds to the public for four weeks while preparations are made for a mega two-day pop festival held there this summer.

A dazzling line-up of music acts including international superstars Rihanna and Jay Z will headline BBC Radio 1’s Weekend event on June 23 and 24.

But preparations to erect a huge perimeter fence for the concert mean access to a public pathway used for recreational purposes and as a shortcut, running alongside the old River Lea (not the Lea navigation) from Homerton Road to Friends Bridge, will be closed from June 9 to July 6.

Radio 1 wants to ensure no-one without a ticket is able to get in, so the event doesn’t get swamped.

But Hackney Marsh Users Group have branded the security arrangements as “excessive” and “unacceptable.”

Leabridge ward councillor and User Group member, Ian Rathbone, said: “The use of public open space for an event is one thing, but to hold one that excludes public use of common land for a month suggests the Marsh is not an appropriate place for such an event.

“The proposed closure of the path a will deprive regular users of one of the best parts of the Marshes for walking, running, cycling and watching the wildlife.

“These arrangements take no account of the large number of local people who visit and use the Marshes on a regular basis for informal recreation and to enjoy the peace and quiet it provides.”

Cllr Rathbone has asked the council whether the time the path is shut can be shortened to allow people to continue to enjoy the marshes.

But a BBC spokesman said planning for an event of this scale inevitably caused some disruption: “We have worked incredibly hard to ensure that this is kept to a minimum,” he said.

“Radio 1’s Hackney Weekend will offer tens of thousands of people from the local area, the opportunity to see a world class musical line up right on their doorstep.”

The council’s cabinet member for culture, Cllr Jonathan McShane, said in a statement the event had been developed to minimise disruption so most of the Marshes remained open for all but four days in June.

“The Olympic Games and linked events present a once in a lifetime opportunity and the Marshes is the ideal venue for the Hackney Weekend,” he said.

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