Park may be locked up at night as loud parties on Primrose Hill continue

Neighbours could fund-raise for gates

Thursday, 13th August 2020 — By Bronwen Weatherby

Primrose Hill-Primrose Hill003-2016

PRIMROSE Hill could be closed at night for the first time in decades because of what has been described as a “small selfish minority” who continue to throw loud parties in the park.

Police and park managers met at a public meeting held over videocall last week with residents, who have been regularly disturbed by loud sound systems and drunk revellers. They were urged to “take back control”. The green space has become a location for unlicensed music events since the coronavirus lockdown saw indoor venues forced to close.

The New Journal reported last month how this had led to late night disturbances, residential streets used for urination and rubbish left strewn in park and front gardens.

Eleanor Sturdy, 55, from Primrose Hill said: “The meeting was helpful because I think all involved came to realise that this is not something that can be left alone. Not only is it making lots of people’s lives extremely difficult, but if things carry on like this there is a chance someone could get seriously hurt.

“I don’t think people would want to see the park shut early, a suggestion was 11pm when parks police clock off, because that seems to be when there’s a gap of enforcement.”

Several residents from the Meadowbank estate which overlooks the park also spoke at the meeting, with one man describing the volume of music played, particularly on Friday and Saturday night, as “like having a conversation in your front room”.

“It feels threatening,” he added.

Lucy Kelsey, another resident of Meadowbank, said at the meeting: “This area is now a nighttime destination. People arrive in cars and groups are drinking around the cars and playing music right outside our windows.

“Not everyone realises the impact they are having, they’re not all menacing types but they are drinking and there is drug taking, and drug dealing – many residents have noted it.”

Mick Hudspeth, the Primrose Hill Community Association manager who organised the meeting, said: “One of the concerns brought up by Royal Parks about installing the gates was budget so we’ve now asked for them to draw up how much they think it would cost, and they are going to look into whether the gates which were previously removed still exist in storage.”

“If they are unwilling to pay for the changes, residents and local businesses have said they would be interested in fundraising to pay for it.”

Speaking at the meeting Sergeant Alvaro Aracena-Fuentes, said: “To tackle this we have something called Operation Menorca which is our response to ASB problems, raves, UME [unlicensed music event] parties all across London,” he said. “We are aware of the problem and whenever possible we go there.”

Nick Biddle, park manager for Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill, said: “Unfortunately police have noted an increase in antisocial behaviour in the evenings in open spaces across all of London and beyond in the last couple of months, including on Primrose Hill. Most visitors to Primrose Hill behave responsibly and enjoy the free access to the park. It is a small selfish minority who are making life unpleasant for other park users and local residents.”

He added: “We don’t believe that putting up gates in itself would solve the problem but we are looking at the practicality of this and other measures to address this anti-social behaviour.”

Mr Biddle also said the Royal Parks will be putting up new signs to remind park users that playing amplified music is against park regulations.

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