UPDATE: Mizen family's Blackheath peace festival under threat after objections from police, Greenwich councillors and neighbours (From News Shopper)
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UPDATE: Mizen family's Blackheath peace festival under threat after objections from police, Greenwich councillors and neighbours
Mizen family's Blackheath peace festival under threat after objections from police, Greenwich councillors and neighbours
A peace festival on Blackheath organised by murdered teenager Jimmy Mizen's family is under threat following objections by police, Greenwich councillors and neighbours worried about people vomiting in their gardens.
A Lewisham Council committee will decide next week whether to give a licence to the Good Hope Festival music and arts event, expected to attract crowds of 20,000 and due to run on August 2 and 3 this year.
Organised by the Jimmy Mizen Foundation - set up by Jimmy's family following his murder in 2008 - it will include a main stage, big top, marquees, a chill out zone and funfair with an aim to promote peace and the good work of young people.
Ward councillors have backed the proposals as a one-off event while the Blackheath Society is also supportive, seeing a chance to analyse how well the heath would cope with a large two-day festival.
The society tried in 2011 in the courts to stop another music festival - On Blackheath - which is also set to run this September.
But a number of objections about the Mizen festival have been received, including one from Lewisham police licensing officer PS Jim Abbott who warns it could create crime and disorder, endanger public safety and create a nuisance.
He claims the current application lacks sufficient details and writes: "We have no option [but] to object at this stage."
One neighbour, a Mrs Preston of The Keep, wrote in her objection letter there was "a certain arrogance" behind the plans. She said: "We already have aeroplane noise, helicopter noise, traffic noise. Our peace was disturbed two years ago in 2012 by the Olympics in Greenwich Park. We need our green spaces.
"To supply alcohol to such a large crowd is unwise."
And AW Burton, of Langton Way, wrote: "It is inevitable that children and under-age teens will acquire alcohol.
"As a resident of a quiet road by the heath, I will undoubtedly have the task of cleaning up sick and 'other' from my front garden due to alcoholic excess."
Others point out the heath "is not an area like Glastonbury", with one saying that a recent holding of the Blackheath fireworks was potentially "a Hillsborough-like situation".
Meanwhile, Greenwich councillors also have "the strongest reservations" over possible noise pollution, arguing any licence must be for one year only and not granted in perpetuity, as the application asks for.
"It's everybody's event"
Tommy Mizen, 32, a brother of Jimmy's who is organising the festival, said the foundation was open to criticism and had applied for an earlier finish and smaller site to minimise disruption for neighbours.
He said: "We're doing everything we can to try and make the festival good for everybody.
"From our original idea we've changed quite a lot to try and keep local people happy."
He added: "People have a right to be concerned, it's on their doorstep. I welcome their concerns - if we hear about them then we can do something about it."
Mr Mizen said he hoped to hold the event every year, raising money for the foundation and offering job placements and hundreds of volunteer slots to young people.
He said: "My long-term plan would be to hold one preferably every year. It could be a great event for the local community.
"We could be employing a lot of young people and giving them some fantastic opportunities but it takes more than one year to build that up."
He said applying for a licence in perpetuity had the benefit of keeping costs down for the charity but added: "The council still have the right to take that licence away from us if they feel it's not a good event. It doesn't mean it's definitely going to go ahead each year."
He added: "Everyone has to be willing to work together. I want to work with all the local people. It's not just our event, it's everybody's event."
A spokesman for Lewisham police said: "Lewisham police are discussing the intended plans for the event with the organisers and the Jimmy Mizen foundation.
"We are confident that the event will meet with the stringent guidelines as set out by the safety advisory group, and the licensing objectives under the licensing act.
"We have not at any time warned that this event will create crime and disorder, public nuisance or endanger public safety.
"We go through these planning steps to ensure such events are as safe and crime free as possible allowing the wider community to enjoy themselves."
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