When I found myself unable to support Formula E in Battersea Park I was perfectly content with being in a minority position. It was almost a habit in Wandsworth, something I considered a strength, both personal and policy-making.
I assumed that Formula E would come, and go, and a few people would be a bit put out, but it would soon be forgotten.
I certainly hadn’t anticipated the concrete and metal mess that Battersea Park has become.
It’s incredibly hard not to think a line has been crossed. I was concerned about the principle of selling the park being breached. Yes, bits of the park are available for private rent, but they are small portions of the park: even when they are closed off the park can still function as a park.
Instead we are faced with weeks of excessive disruption. (It has been months this time, but I assume that’s only due to the tarmac “enhancements” that won’t need repeating for the 2016–2019 races). I can’t describe how saddening it was when my daughter got excited about a nursery trip to Battersea Park, only to hear her slightly older brother who had been that day, lower her expectations: “Battersea Park isn’t a nice place to visit any more.”
The council has been remarkably quiet in answering criticism. I wonder if this is because they are preparing for a change of heart but want to keep that to themselves until after the race. I hope so, but also worry they are hoping to ride out the criticism.
But the mood seems to be changing. The Labour Party, having previously supported the event, have started changing their tone and throughout the debacle residents have been mobilising, organising a petition and a public meeting for shortly after the event.
It has long been my concern that the council lacks a vision of what is important to Wandsworth. Perhaps this will be one of those occasions when local residents are going to make sure they know what is important to Wandsworth.