Gunnersbury Park Music Festival Goes Ahead over Funeral Weekend

Council angry that organisers of Waterworks didn't cancel

Last year's Waterworks Festival in Gunnersbury Park. Picture: Instagram

The leader of Hounslow Council has said he is ‘extremely disappointed’ at the decision by the organisers of a Gunnersbury Park music festival to go ahead with an event on the weekend ahead of the Queen's funeral.

The Waterworks Festival took place on Saturday (17 September) during a period of national mourning when the Queen is lying in state before her funeral on Monday. The noise from the festival could be heard across west London.

The event, which was held at the park last year, attracted over 7,000 people with tickets priced at over £70 including booking fee. It describes itself as a celebration of electronic music culture.

77 acts performed on seven stages starting at noon and continuing through to 10.30pm. The main stage was a Water Tower which will hold a 360 degree sound system wrapped around a pavilion.

The organisers say they chose a date later than most festivals to allow for light shows on all the stages as dusk falls.

Cllr Shantanu Rajawat, Leader of Hounslow Council said, “We are extremely disappointed in the decision of Waterworks Events Ltd to proceed with their planned multi-stage electronica festival in Gunnersbury Park during this period of mourning for the passing of our late Queen and Sovereign, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second.

“Hounslow Council has made representations in the strongest terms advising against this event proceeding. We are clear this massive multi-stage festival event is completely out of keeping with the mood of the nation at this time of grief.”

In a statement on its web site Waterworks Events quotes Cabinet Office guidance issued on the 9 September saying that there is no obligation for organisers to cancel events even if they were taking place on the day of the state funeral.

It continues, “We were asked by Hounslow Council if we would consider cancelling or postponing the event, but with the event already 10 days into the build, over 500 people booked in to work across the event and 80+ artists travelling from across Europe to play the event, the task of postponing to rearrange for a later date, especially for an outdoor event, this year is unfortunately an impossible one.

“We then considered the feasibility of the event being able to safely take place under the change of circumstance that the country and specifically the capital city finds itself in. We stress-tested all our critical infrastructure that forms our Event Management Plan and found that all contractors and key staff are still able to perform their roles for the event. The event does not plan to and is not expected to draw on any other public services who might now be called in to support plans for the State Funeral.

“We spoke with spoke with the Gunnersbury Park management and received their support for the event to continue to as planned and checked the licensing conditions under which the event must operate to confirm that we are still able to operate within them. Having confirmed internally that the event is safe and adequately resourced to continue as planned we then had to consider the ethical decision of continuing with the event during a period of national mourning.”

The company does have insurance to cover the event which costs £1million to stage but it would not pay out if it was cancelled due to the death of the Queen. It says that if it did cancel it would have resulted in the immediate placement of the company into administration because of the requirement to refund tickets with many of the people who worked on the project going unpaid including self-employed and free-lance staff. Many suppliers would also go unpaid.

Waterworks Events concludes, “At a time of the biggest cost-of-living crisis in living memory this is simply not something that we are prepared to consider doing. It is not out of a lack of respect for the Royal Family that we continue with the event, it is due to the respect for the individual staff, artists and small companies that we employ for the show that we have decided to continue.

“Finally, it is our belief that in scenarios such as the one we collectively face as a country right now it is all the more important for people to come together and feel the support of the communities to which they belong and certainly from the messages we have been receiving since yesterday our audience agrees with this.”

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