It has indeed been well recorded that the editors of THE WANDSWORTH VOICE are not in favour of the second manifestation of the Formula E motor race due to be run in our dear Battersea Peak in July this year.

We are now part of the group who formally oppose the race being held in Battersea Park.

One of the editors has submitted a formal objection to the Planning Committee of Wandsworth Borough Council.

And here it is:

This is an objection to the proposed Planning Application submitted by the Formula E organisation for the holding of a motor race in Battersea Park on two days in July 2016.

To whom it may concern from John Fowler:

I started writing this formal objection to this application at around 11:15am on Saturday, 23 January 2016. It was a sunny, yet chilly, morning. I was sitting on a bench just inside the Park by the Albert Bridge Road. I was amazed, enthralled and indeed enchanted by the number of people in the park. Walking, strolling, jogging, running, cycling, skating, pushing prams, playing organised team-games, playing disorganised team-games. Or, just like me, sitting down and resting and watching my fellow-citizens enjoying their leisure-time.

And I said to myself … not only ‘What a Wonderful Park’ … but also, if this number of folk are using the park and its many facilities on a cold winter’s morn, just think how many more will be looking to enjoy it to the full in the months of June and July. 

And how this will not be the case when new roads are being constructed and then deconstructed, when ugly, drab concrete barriers are put in place, when access to several areas will be restricted, when sound systems are being tested, when large flat-bed trucks are queuing up to first deliver and then take away temporary stands and accommodation … in order to host a fairly insignificant motor race.

Battersea Park does have a fine history of hosting events, large and small. But this race is simply being held in the wrong place. As has been said my many before me.

Others will raise objections based on and around dangers to public safety, contravention of key health and safety issues, noise pollution from hovering helicopters, air pollution from delivery trucks. My objections are predicated on the more emotional aspects of depriving people of the joy and satisfaction of simply going into their park at their leisure.

To hold this race here is a crude and shallow compromise. The organisers didn’t want it here (their TV trails still show their cars driving over Westminster Bridge) nor were the citizens of Battersea, Wandsworth, Clapham Junction and Chelsea clamouring for it to take place in their fine Park.

I am a long-term resident of Wandsworth Borough (a mere 47 years) and, with recent boundary changes, I am now also a Battersea parliamentary constituent. I know the Park pretty well but over the years perhaps did not take sufficient advantage of it. 

But times change and things happen.

In my case it is that my dear wife has now been a resident in the Meadbank Nursing Home in Parkgate Road for the last two years. She had a lengthy teaching career, initially in Earlsfield and then in Battersea itself at Chesterton School. One of the few joys in her now sadly restricted and proscribed life-style is for me to take her in her wheel-chair into the Park. When she was placed in Meadbank we found the Park so convenient, so accessible, so pleasant to commune with nature and to have a few cups of tea in the charming, timeless lakeside cafeteria. And it’s become quite a ritual for both of us.

This will be marred this summer, as it was last summer, by building works, barriers, noise and actual closure.

The Park exists for all in perpetuity. By shutting it, by restricting access, by changing its ambience, by holding an event which was never intended for a public park, by apparently ignoring or contravening its own environmental and pollution objectives Wandsworth Borough Council – who merely manage the Park on our behalf – is doing itself a major disservice in addition to doing a massive disservice to the people who visit the Park for whatever purpose.

I ask you to reject the application to hold the Formula E event.

Just as you let down users of and visitors to the Park, so are you letting yourselves down by not listening properly to me and my fellow objectors and by not taking fair and proper note of the depth and quality of our feelings in the context of this event.