Platt-itudes from #Manchester City Council?

I think we can all agree that there is nothing like good firework display and a pipping hot portion of chips to enjoy Bonfire night in a windy park. However, there is a price that comes with hosting big events – one that the park itself actually pays.
In Manchester, Bonfire night events are usually held at Platt Fields park but this year the Coalition for Platt Fields Park have called a moratorium on all events and asked the Bonfire night event to be cancelled. Why? The Coalition says the park is in desperate need of time to recover from over-use which has left its show fields unable to soak up water.

“The whole of the show field has got so impacted over the last few years that it is like a non-porous clay container, no water can go through – most of the show field is now small lakes,” explains Anne Tucker, Honorary Treasurer and Volunteer Co-ordinator at Friends of Platt Fields Park. “Till the park has had some time to recover (and is effectively aerated again so as to play a part in flood control) there are so many other parks that bonfire night can take place in.”

Manchester City Council, however, say that they won’t be cancelling the Bonfire Night events at Platt Fields. Councillor Rosa Battle, Executive Member for Culture and Leisure, said: “The bonfire night event at Platt Fields Park is enjoyed by tens of thousands of people every November and there is no reason why this year should be any different. The park is in a satisfactory condition to hold this much-loved annual community event which supports our strategy of providing Manchester residents with safe, free and family-friendly displays to prevent them organising their own with the associated risks of injury and nuisance.”

The popularity of the event, however, is one of the reasons Anne Tucker states it needs to cancelled at Platt Fields and arranged at another location. “Despite the devastation wreaked on Platt Fields, they are still planning to hold bonfire night there in November – 25,000 people tramping all over it. Doesn’t the council have a duty of care to manage flooding? One of the key ways to do this is to use green open space to mitigate against so much tarmac …. all green space is essential soak away areas in cities for excess water.”

The City Council informed MCFly that there are no major events planned for Platt Fields park in the following few months after the bonfire night.
MCFly is asking follow-up questions to the Council, not least around what is “satisfactory”, who decides and on what criteria.  If case you’re wondering why a climate-focused publication is following this story, it’s because we want to examine the rhetoric-reality gap (if there is one) between a) caring for biodiversity and “green infrastructure” when there’s a conflict with other goals and b) listening to local people and what actually happens in this city.

Arwa Aburawa
Related articles:
Manchester Mule article, July 12 2012 “Platt Fields protection group to consider the future of festivals

About manchesterclimatemonthly

Was print format from 2012 to 13. Now web only. All things climate and resilience in (Greater) Manchester.
This entry was posted in Biodiversity, Democratic deficit, Manchester City Council and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Platt-itudes from #Manchester City Council?

  1. Phil Dodd says:

    This is a really hard one to call.
    On one hand you have to think about water preservation,and the need to mantain the water table throughout the park.
    Yet on the other hand ,the need for organised firework displays,in the name of safety for all the public.We do not want to see the rise of bonfires and home firework displays.
    Trying to find an alternative site for the display,so that over 20.000 can attend would be difficult,but maybe if this was highlighted sooner,maybe an alternative could have been found.Though i doubt it.

  2. Anne Tucker says:

    I would like to correct a little of this – the Coalition is NOT calling for cancellation – it has questionned members about whether this SHOULD be the call, but it seems that a majority of people feel that it should not be cancelled as it is a major community event. People are aware that it is likely to damage the park further, but that this is a price everyone is prepared to pay this time … It is a very difficult one, I agree …personally I feel very muddled about it, I love bonfire night in Platt Fields, its short, sweet and exciting for so many families to be outdoors at night (very rare …) though not so much fun for most dog-owners, I’m sure. It makes me very annoyed that because of the lack of understanding in the council of what any park needs to stay in good health following one or more weekends a year of 25,000 pounding feet, that Platt Fields is in the dreadful state it is in … and that community events might have to suffer as a result of this. My dilemma is that we have to stop somewhere … the park must be given time to recover and breathe again. The verdict this time seems to be that the moratorium should start after bonfire night not before … we are a democratic movement, so so be it.

    • arwafreelance says:

      Thanks Anne. I would however like to point out that the correction is only needed due to a misleading statement you sent me stating that the damage caused by Bonfire night would be huge and so the coalition is calling for a moratorium. This is clearly not true – hence the need for a correction.

      Still, I’m glad that got in touch and subsequently apologised for sending the misleading statement (in personal correspondence). Thank you.

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