UEFA Euro 2020 Fanzone Update
Notes on a Meeting with Loud Sound on 22nd October 2019
Greenwich Society, EGRA, Blackheath Society, Friends of Greenwich Park, Westcombe Society, Loud Sound, Emergency Exit Arts
Loud Sound are the PR/Events company employed by the GLA to oversee the organisation of the UEFA Fanzone. No-one from the GLA was present. Loud Sound brought a provisional schedule of events for next June and July with some confirmed match screening dates and a Management and Operational Plan detailing areas of responsibility. Another public consultation is planned for 4th November between 13.00 and 20.00 at the University of Greenwich School of Architecture in Stockwell Street.
Loud Sound explained that the timetable has slipped since the previous meeting. Organisers are in discussions with RBG and the planning application should be on the planning portal soon. It is not expected to go to Planning Committee until February. The Licensing Application will be done simultaneously. This seems a tight schedule for a May start date.
There is still some confusion about how the ticket ballot will work. Loud Sound were unable to say how international fans would be able to access the last minute ballot to attend matches where the teams would not be known until a couple of days before. We would like clarity on whether blocks of tickets are being distributed by tour operators. There is also concern about how fans can be vetted when one person can book 4 tickets. We would also like clarity on the percentage of tickets being reserved for local fans.
Policing and Security
Organisers are meeting the police to discuss the considerable problems of access, dispersal of fans after matches and anti-social behaviour. There is concern from all local groups about knives though it appears there will not be knife arches at entrances to the Fanzone, only bag searches. The re-emergence of racist behaviour at matches is also an issue and there was discussion about whether broadcasts should be stopped if this happens or whether this would exacerbate an already volatile situation.
Organisers are in discussions with SE Trains to put on extra trains. Thameslink has ruled out additional trains. The DLR will also apparently have extra capacity. There has not been any discussion with TfL about extra Jubilee Line trains or buses to North Greenwich. Organisers are keen to encourage staggered arrival times though departures will be more difficult. A particular problem is that this event is taking place during normal working times, unlike the Olympics which took place in the summer holidays and that the numbers are 25% higher.
Clashes with other events
The Fanzone will be active at the same time as On Blackheath and Greenwich Music Time increasing pressure on public transport and local infrastructure. Organisers claim that the O2 does not yet have a list of events for next summer but this is plainly nonsense as most O2 events are part of world tours and are booked years in advance (e.g. Diana Ross at the O2 on 8th July next year will clash with a semi-final screening). The new venue, Magazine, has also not been contacted. There is obvious potential for a perfect storm of several major events taking place at the same time. At a more local level, the park bandstand concerts will have to compete with the Fanzone probably on 3 Sundays.
There is general concern about the use of the Park playground during matches. The Fanzone extends to the border of the playground and it is in the middle of the access route for fans to and from Maze Hill station. Even extra police may not be sufficient to ensure that it is useable.
Closure of viewpoints
There is general alarm at the need to block the iconic views from the Wolfe statue and One Tree Hill. This will involve some kind of removable hoarding deployed during matches. The hillside below the viewpoint will also need to be closed. Organisers are looking at changing the opening hours of the Royal Observatory on match days. The damage to the regular tourist industry may be significant.
Generators and Air Quality
There is still no information about how many generators will be required although presumably the numbers of vendors must be known by now.
Use of Blackheath
There is great concern about the planned use of Circus Field for what is essentially a worksite for the Fanzone for a two month period. Aside from the aesthetic impact, damage to the heath will be inevitable.
Emergency Exit Arts has the task of working up a schedule of community participation events for non-match days and Ulrika from EEA attended the meeting to get some background. Ideas are at an early stage. Schools, arts groups and Charlton Athletic’s community outreach team are likely to be contacted. A number of attendees put in a plea for more free days without any events so that people could simply use the park as a park.
Inevitably there are issues about parking even though the organisers intend it to be a car-free event (where have we heard that before?) The bandstand concerts attract a lot of people by car and the parking is usually full early on Sundays. Other park events cause major traffic problems on surrounding roads (to say nothing of air pollution) as people attempt to leave the park. Some areas of Westcombe Park close to the Park are not in a CPZ. Where roads are included the controls end at 18.30 and are not in force on Sundays. The organisers will discuss a temporary arrangement with RBG.
The organisers are planning meetings with local businesses in November to try to avoid some of the problems that occurred during the Olympics. The central theme is encouraging fans to have a longer dwell time in Greenwich.