The Lovebox festival at Gunnersbury Park has once again received rave reviews, with the Guardian reporting headliner Solange ‘intoxicates the smiley revellers’ and that: ‘The relocated event settled into its new home with strong sets from Lizzo, 2 Chainz, J Hus and the blessed Chance the Rapper’.
That won’t please the 140 people who complained to the organisers by phone and email over the weekend, about a range of issues ranging from the ‘noise’ to traffic jams to people bringing drugs into the area.
The Event Umbrella for the management company which runs Gunnersbury Park had organised a team of four people to deal with any problems highlighted by local residents. Jackie Sears and her team were on duty from 8.00am till after midnight all three days. Jackie told me there were traffic problems in two areas in particular – Elderberry Rd and Almond Avenue at the junction with Elderberry Rd in Ealing. There was a programme of road closures and double the number of security staff from last year in the attempt to stop festival goers from parking in the residential streets around the park. Neither road had been included in the plan, she said, but they will be next year.
There were tailbacks on the North Circular as people streamed towards the park on Friday at the same time locals were picking up children from school and the normal Friday night rush hour was taking place. Traffic problems were compounded by Acton Carnival taking place on Saturday, so forced to turn right out of Bollo Lane at Acton Town tube station, because Gunnersbury Lane was closed for the festival, motorists were plunged straight in to the traffic jam caused by the carnival.
Some residents hadn’t got the passes issued to them so stewards would make sure they were able to access their homes by car, so in a few cases there were disputes where security weren’t letting them in to their roads, Jackie told me. Each household in every street which was closed to non-residents had been offered two car passes each, more if they said they needed them, but some hadn’t realised, hadn’t read the leaflet or whatever, and it was difficult then for stewards to decide whether they were genuine residents or festival goers looking for free parking and just trying it on. But in the main the system worked much better than last year, she said.
Mamaco, the event organisers, had 29 noise complaints, including some from Strand on the Green. The volume was monitored every fifteen minutes on the site and each time there was a complaint Jackie’s team dispatched a monitor to do a test. There were no breaches of the agreed sound limit of 72 decibels, she says, and mostly the call outs found the volume was about ten decibels less than that.
There were very few arrests for quite minor offences considering that 25,000 people attended Lovebox on Friday, 34,000 on Saturday and 24,000 attended Citadel on Sunday. Police professed themselves happy with the way it had gone. They had put in place a ‘dispersal’ notice so if there were complaints about revellers hanging about after the events ‘loitering’ they moved them on.
There’s been quite a bit of chatter on social media about people bringing drugs into the area, but there’s easily as much on social media from festival goers saying how hard the security is a Lovebox and Citadel and how difficult it is to get drugs in, (even if you sellotape your stash under your armpits apparently – that doesn’t work because they pat you down!)
‘After clearing intense levels of security, a largely Gen Z crowd mainlined Carlsberg and donned festival must-haves including Stormzy-esque utility vests and face jewels’ reported the Guardian. ‘They were a smiley and lightly engaged bunch’. But according to the Evening Standard, poor planning killed the vibe. What was the problem? ‘Security emptying people’s prescription pills into a bin and sneaking into mosh pits looking to catch teenagers up to no good certainly didn’t help. Poor acoustics on the main stage also flattened the atmosphere’.
The organisers can win really, can they?! But Jackie Sears will write up her analysis of the data for next year and is interested to hear from anyone who’d like to contribute their comments, ‘good or bad’ at email@example.com