The free party debate has received increasing coverage over the past year. Only last month were four men arrested at a rave in Barking, though violent behaviour prompted their detention, not the act of dancing. Last weekend, several arrests were made in Walsingham, where local dancers had converted a derelict ban into a dancefloor. Again, the dancing wasn’t the problem; blocking the road and assaulting an officer was.
Hackney Council have launched the most recent tirade on free party culture, initiating a consultation with local residents of Hackney Wick as a result of years of woodland raves. Citing fly tipping, environmental damage, noise pollution and antisocial behaviour as the reasoning behind this discussion, the prevalent question being raised is this: should a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) be introduced to conserve the natural area?
Caroline Selman, Cabinet Member for Community Safety, Policy, and the Voluntary Sector, had this to say on the subject:
“Hackney Wick Woodland is Hackney’s green lung, and we want to make sure that it remains a place that everyone can enjoy. Following significant damage to the Woodland area, and regular large-scale illegal raves that often go on all night and cause severe disruption to people in the area, we want to introduce these plans to protect both the Woodland and the people who live beside it.
I’d encourage people in the area who want to make sure the Woodland is protected and remains a place for everyone to respond to the consultation.”
PSPOs are essentially introduced to discourage and prevent antisocial behaviour in specific areas. In this case, only the Wick Woodland area would be subject to the Order. Police would be allowed to issue on-the-spot-fines of £100 to those participating and organising such parties in an attempt to quell noise and minimise pollution. Past attempts of control have seen the installation of natural fencing and logs to block access to the area, as well as the issuing of community protection warnings, though these haven’t had the impact the council would have liked.
Ending on the 5th November, residents can have their say either by calling 020 8356 4470, via consultation.hackney.gov.uk or by requesting a paper copy of the consultation.