Wandsworth Labour councillors are delighted that this year’s race in the historic Battersea Park will be the last, after Formula E agreed to withdraw the event in the face of strong public opposition.
Simon Hogg, Wandsworth Labour Leader and long-term opponent of the race, said: “The Council was wrong to steamroller through this event against very strong local opposition. The withdrawal of this event from a Grade II listed park is testimony to what can be achieved by people power and I applaud those who campaigned against it”.
The announcement that this year’s race will be the last in Battersea Park came the day before legal action against Wandsworth Council by Battersea resident, James Jackson, was due to be heard in the High Court.
Councillor Fleur Anderson, who sat on the Committee which voted on the event last year, said: “During the vote, protesters outside were waving banners asking that the Council listen to them, but the Council didn’t listen. The Council only finally listened to residents when it became clear they would lose their case in the High Court”.
Labour councillors all opposed the event when it was voted on in Committee last year, citing the overwhelming public opposition and a plethora of problems which dogged last year’s event. These included a much longer and more disruptive and unsafe set-up time; more reduced access to the park than expected; heavy machinery to create the concrete race barriers and excessive noise from loudspeakers and helicopters. Residents also complained of a lack of consultation and information.
A council report showed that 62% of local residents opposed the event because of very serious concerns about safety, noise and lengthy disruption to Battersea Park during three normally busy summer weeks.
Fleur Anderson said:“The decision to go ahead with this event, which I opposed, shows yet again that Wandsworth Council is too willing make decisions based on money rather on the will of their electorate. As we saw last week when the Council was forced to U-turn on its plans to close Dr Johnson Avenue, financial considerations alone rarely serve the best interests of residents. The Council needs to listen more to those who elect it”.
Formula E had promised an environmentally significant event with a short set-up and take-down time. There had been plans to increase provision of electric power points in the borough and directly support the use of electric cars, but this never materialised. Wandsworth Labour remains very supportive the development of electric vehicles and appreciates the environmental aims of Formula E.
Simon Hogg said “Battersea Park was never the right venue for a motor racing event of this scale. I look forward hugely to seeing tranquillity returned to Battersea Park”.