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15,000 or 50,000? Lowcog's Greenwich capacity overload

Reproduced below is a press release from Nogoe2012 concerning the capacity of Greenwich Park. Greenwich Park's own 'Guidelines for Event Organisers 2010' refers to the Park having a capacity of 'up to 15,000', well short of the 50,000 tickets Lowcog has sold or the 68,000 referred to in its planning documents. Go to Nogoe2012 for more details.


The maximum number of people that Greenwich Park can safely accommodate at any one time is nothing like 68,000 (the figure being used by LOCOG for planning purposes ) or even 50,000 (the number of cross-country day tickets that LOCOG say they have already sold - see Notes below)

The Royal Parks' own "Guidelines for Event Organisers 2010" states that the capacity is up to 15,000 and possibly more for "certain events". In April 2006 Royal Parks granted a premises licence for a film show in Greenwich Park for up to 19,999 people, presumably because people would not be walking about.

Whether we are talking about 15,000 or 19,999, that is without all the Olympic paraphernalia in the Park (stadium, stabling, safety zones, jumps, broadcast compounds, cross country course, loos, generators, etc). So the actual maximum safe capacity in the Park during the Olympics in 2012 is likely to be much less than 15,000.

On 19 October 2011 LOCOG applied for a Premises Licence in Greenwich Park to allow drinking from 10am to 8.30pm and live music and films all day. If there is only one piece of information an event organiser should know, it is the capacity of the venue in question. However LOCOG were unable to answer this question which arose during the proceedings. Although not recorded in the Licensing Committee decision, when asked directly during the public part of the Licensing Committee meeting what the maximum safe capacity of the Park is, the LOCOG venue manager (Jeremy Edwards) remained silent, and LOCOG's solicitor Mr Phipps told the Committee to "ask the fire brigade".

Greenwich Council's Licensing Committee awarded LOCOG a Premises Licence despite not knowing the safe maximum capacity.

A member of NOGOE did what LOCOG suggested with a FOI request to the fire brigade (see content in the NOTES below). The reply from the London Fire Brigade was:

"Fire safety and licencing issues with regards to the Greenwich Park as a Royal Park is the responsibility of the Crown Premises Fire Inspectors and as such the London Fire Brigade have no power of enforcement and have not been liaised with regards to fire safety or licensing. "

The NOGOE member then wrote to Greenwich Council to ask whether they consulted the Crown Premises Fire Inspectors on LOCOG's premises licensing application WK/2011/10519.

On 15 November 2011 the Licensing Section replied that they did consult the Crown Premises Fire Inspectors and have requested comment regarding safe capacity from London Fire Brigade (LFB) and Crown Premises Inspection Group (CPIG).

(The implication here is clearly that previous consultation had not dealt with the key question of safe capacity. Moreover NOGOE is unsure as to whether the full context was presented i.e. was the map drawn to scale showing the steep inclines with all LOCOG's overlay on it, and could 68,000 people be safely evacuated through 3 exits since the Park would be enclosed by 5m high security fencing?)

On 16 November 2011 LFB and CPIG wrote to Greenwich Council to say that they do not wish to make any representation.

Who can blame them - after the Licence has been granted?

The public must wonder how LOCOG have managed to get this far - with a budget of £60 million for Greenwich Park (and counting) preparing it to be an Olympics venue - and sell 50,000 tickets for a venue that would safely hold much less than that. This has been a PR disaster for LOCOG.

NOGOE spokesman, Sev D'Souza, commented: " Right Event. Wrong Place. It beggars belief that LOCOG could take such risks with an event of this scale in one of the world's most important heritage sites so as to endanger its ecology and public safety."

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