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Wireless allowed to go ahead, just don’t fucking swear

By | Published on Wednesday 24 October 2018

Wireless Festival

Live Nation’s Wireless Festival has fought off attempts to have its licence revoked by residents living near Finsbury Park in London, where it takes place each summer. However, Haringey Council has imposed new licensing conditions which will force the event to be quieter and to end earlier. Oh, and performers will be asked to avoid using expletives and to refrain from wearing revealing clothing. “Female breasts” will definitely need to be covered up.

Opposition was raised about the staging of the festival in the London borough by a local residents’ group called Friends Of Finsbury Park – who launched a crowdfunding campaign to cover the costs of presenting their case in the licensing review. Concerns were also expressed about the event by nearby Hackney Council and Islington Council. The latter published a report earlier this year, based on local residents’ concerns.

Concerns included sound levels emitting from the event; drunk, disorderly and generally anti-social behaviour by attendees around the festival’s site, including streets and doorsteps being used as toilets; drug dealers operating in the streets near the park; and children hearing expletives from performers on stage.

While some, including one Hackney councillor, called for the festival’s licence to be revoked entirely, others called for stricter controls. For their part, FoFP argued that if the event was not moved out of the park entirely, its capacity should be reduced from 45,000 to 10,000.

Commenting on these moves, one local resident told the Evening Standard that they were not against the event in principle, but felt that something did need to be done to curb anti-social behaviour. “I love the diversity of Finsbury Park, I like it to be a bit edgy”, they said. “But it’s not pleasant when your street becomes a public toilet. Someone went to the toilet, big time, at our house last year”.

At a hearing regarding the festival’s licence last week, a lawyer for Live Nation, Philip Kolvin, argued that the event already went above and beyond what was required in terms of security, while also disputing claims from critics that the festival wasn’t the kind of ‘celebration’ event that Finsbury Park should host.

According to the Islington Gazette, he told the hearing: “It’s a celebration of grime music. A genre that emerged from London, from the estates, from the inner city. It’s London music – therefore, the festival celebrates the music of the people. It’s not a celebration for the Friends Of Finsbury Park. It is the only festival in the world that fully represents the community in which it is based. It’s London music and a London festival. That’s how important it is”.

On FoFP’s request that the festival’s capacity be severely cut back, Kolvin argued that 45,000 was the absolute lowest capacity that an event of this kind could operate on, especially if it was to continue securing the level of artists it featured. As for complaints about those artists then swearing on stage, he said that performers were all asked not to do so before their sets began, but “there’s not a lot more we can do” beyond that.

Haringey Council’s decision to grant Wireless a licence for next year was announced last night. However, new conditions have been placed on the proceedings. For example, sound levels must be reduced and the event will now wrap up at 9.30pm each day, rather than 10pm.

Then there are the fun new restrictions on the conduct and stagewear of artists booked to play. “The licensee shall reasonably request that performers do not sing or play any vulgar, obscene or banned songs”, the council says.

Said request will also demand that performers do not “carry out indecent acts; or make any vulgar gestures, actions or remarks during the performance; or at any point whilst using an amplification device, including the use of expletives”.

As for wardrobe, Team Wireless will “also ensure that the attire of the performers do not offend the general public, for example attire which exposes the groin, private parts, buttock or female breast(s)”.

Despite including all these restrictions, the document then also notes that enforcing them will be “somewhat unrealistic given this is a live music festival”.

A spokesperson for Friends Of Finsbury Park told the Evening Standard that the group is “disappointed” that the event will still go ahead in 2019, but were nevertheless happy with the changes that have been made.

“We are … pleased the committee listened to us and incorporated our proposals on sound limits”, they said. “It was too loud [this year] and it was clear residents were being disturbed. Wireless will now have to be a quieter festival. We have taken it all the way we can. We took it to a two day licensing hearing and to get a change in that licence, I feel we have achieved a lot”.

Haringey councillor Kirsten Hearn said that “Wireless Festival is a world-class urban event that helps to fund the park the whole year round and makes a major cultural contribution to Haringey”.

She added that the council would continue to work with residents and Live Nation’s Festival Republic division to address ongoing concerns. And thank fuck for that. Now, let’s get all those female breasts covered up.



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