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05 August 2012 @ 05:03 pm
Manchester Parklife Festival One Month On  
We live quite close to Platt Fields Park which is one of Manchester's major open air venues. It is also, mostly, a very nice park. We've always been supportive of the idea that the park should be used for events, seeing it as a way for Platt Fields to "pay its way", especially in these straightened times. The Parklife Festival is the largest regular event to use the park and involves much of the place being closed to the public for two weeks while the stages are set up and then taken down. There was a lot of controversy this year over the decision to allow the event a license to use the park given that the place clearly strained under the numbers last year. Among other things the local community received an assurance that a professional "Sports Ground Recovery" company would be used to restore the park after the event.

While I was taking these I spotted a couple of "drains" people investigating gutters which may, or may not, have been a sign of progress. A week later a public meeting was held about the state of the park but I couldn't attend so I'm not sure what the up-shot was. I do wonder if the event organisers decided there was no way they were going to get a license next year, no matter what happened, and so completely abandoned any attempt to restore the park after it was used.

This was all about three weeks ago (I said I was behind on blogging) and, what with one thing and another, I've not been back to the park since. Maybe I should do a Two Months On post as well and see if things have improved.

The Manchester Mega Mela which was due to be held in the park in July has now been postponed until August. Allegedly this was because of a poor weather forecast but I can't help feeling that the fact that they would be starting out the event with a mud bath must have played into the decision.

The rather gloomy realisation that the the money raised by licensing the park to these events does not actually get paid back into park maintenance doesn't really improve the local opinion of the matter.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/73417.html.
parrot_knightparrot_knight on August 5th, 2012 04:34 pm (UTC)
That's not good, and rather depressing.
louisedennislouisedennis on August 5th, 2012 04:51 pm (UTC)
The weather has been terrible, of course, which hasn't helped. But even so a month is a long time for a major public park to be in this state.
fredbassettfredbassett on August 5th, 2012 04:37 pm (UTC)
That's disgraceful. And probably wholly predictable, sadly.
louisedennislouisedennis on August 5th, 2012 04:52 pm (UTC)
I keep wondering what will happen when Park Life ask for a license next year... because if they get one I think there will be massive local anger, but that probably won't much worry the bigwigs at the council.
lukadreaminglukadreaming on August 5th, 2012 05:01 pm (UTC)
Might be inclined to send the pix to the MEN if they haven't already done the story.
louisedennislouisedennis on August 5th, 2012 05:10 pm (UTC)
I find it hard to imagine they don't know. They ran the story about the Mega Mela being cancelled and have the standard "residents complained about parklife" followed by "but the organisers say a professional company was brought in" - I'm assuming the complaints have been chalked up to Nimbyism but maybe I'm overestimating the innate curiosity of local journalists.
MysteriousAliWays: Primeval - Connor Whuh?mysteriousaliwz on August 5th, 2012 05:09 pm (UTC)
Hmm, that's a bit of a mess, to say the least. They should have done something by now - even if it hasn't been optimum weather for turf-laying (although who knows, the rain might have been better than if it had been a drought) a month is a long time to leave it in that condition.
louisedennislouisedennis on August 5th, 2012 05:15 pm (UTC)
That's my feeling. There's been some suggestion that they've sown grass seed but given nothing is fenced off and the ground is water-logged that hardly seems adequate... and frankly it doesn't look like its been prepared for seed sowing or anything.

If it had been a nice summer there's basically two games fields out of commission plus a popular picnic and general sitting around area - that's a lot of local amenity lost.
firinfirin on August 5th, 2012 05:30 pm (UTC)
Merely putting down grass seed seems woefully short of 'professional ground recovery' in any case.

I can quite understand the annoyance/anger of the local community.
louisedennislouisedennis on August 5th, 2012 05:35 pm (UTC)
Well, you know, they also took away the portaloos for which I suppose we should be grateful :/

But, yes, I can help feeling that if this were a football stadium or Lords Cricket Ground it would not still be in this state!
bunn: Wild Gardenbunn on August 5th, 2012 06:04 pm (UTC)
But I don't suppose they would have allowed Lords to be used for something like that in the first place?

I would guess that the damage done has been a lot greater than expected, because the ground was so wet, and I am wondering if they perhaps they budgeted for the kind of restoration that a dry summer would have required, rather than dealing with that sort of mess.

Although I can see it's really annoying to have the park out of action for so long, I'm struggling to think what they could practically do with the ground so waterlogged, short of scooping off tonnes of mud and replacing it with dry soil and turf, which would be absurdly costly. If they tried to dig and rake the soil for seeding when it's that wet then I think the soil structure would collapse and they'd end up with a worse swamp than they started with? I suppose they could fence it off, but then probably people would complain about the fences.
louisedennislouisedennis on August 5th, 2012 06:32 pm (UTC)
That's interesting, and is more information than even `The Friends of Platt Fields Park' appear to have about what is going on.

How much is "absurdly costly" put against the fact that Manchester City Council allegedly got paid £100,000 to allow the event to take place?
bunnbunn on August 5th, 2012 06:55 pm (UTC)
no idea, sorry - am just going on a limited acquaintance with landscape gardener / hard landscaping type people online, not the kind of work I've ever had to have done.

This is the sort of Q that used to come up on uk.rec.gardening but I don't know if the urglers still have that level of expertise. You could try asking at https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en&fromgroups#!forum/uk.rec.gardening anyway - and maybe also in the drainage section of http://www.pavingexpert.com/cgi-bin/ib3/ikonboard.cgi ? Tony Cormaic of pavingexpert will know if anyone does.
louisedennislouisedennis on August 5th, 2012 07:01 pm (UTC)
I should probably go and get some more up-to-date pics before I do any of that. But it would be nice to know if this is "just one of those things" or if corners have been cut.
bunnbunn on August 5th, 2012 07:08 pm (UTC)
If they have a good excuse, it does seem a bit off that they have not shared it with the Friends group. They should be able to at least communicate, no matter what the weather!
louisedennislouisedennis on August 6th, 2012 03:18 pm (UTC)
Well given the friends group are volunteers and probably no better at communication than Parklife it is always possible that they know more, though their current statements don't really suggest as such.
wellinghallwellinghall on August 6th, 2012 04:41 pm (UTC)
The "Occupy Bristol" protest over the winter occupied College Green, an area of green space in front of the cathedral and council house. It is considerably smaller than Platt Fields Park. They left it in a mess (unsurprisingly, with several dozen people on it for several weeks), and the council got it re-turfed afterwards, with barriers all around to keep people off while the turf bedded in (or whatever turf does). I think this cost £30,000; but I don't know how this breaks down between labour, materials, barrier hire &c.
the little creep: donotwantnyarbaggytep on August 5th, 2012 09:05 pm (UTC)
Oh no! I like the park. I trained near there, and used to go there for lunches.
louisedennislouisedennis on August 6th, 2012 03:19 pm (UTC)
Some of it is OK. The Rose Garden has survived rather better than it did last year and the lake is mostly fine (though infested with blue-green algae, but that probably can't be blamed on Parklife). The Shakespeare garden is a mess but, again, I don't think that is Parklife's fault.