Whatever Camp Royale is going to be, it seems it’s definitely happening.

And it’s been a lesson in how not to organise and publicise an event of this nature. The first that many people heard about it was news reports of a 10,000 person campsite on Clapham Common, which is managed by Lambeth Council. When Wandsworth (which covers part of the Common) enquired it was impossible to get an answer from Lambeth: it seemed they knew as little about it as residents did!

Then we got the message that Lambeth hadn’t formally agreed it, but had indicated they were minded to allow it for around 4,000 people. But at the same time Camp Royale were claiming that they had signed a lease agreement:
Even more recently it looked as if the event was in trouble, with the story getting out that Camp Royale had failed to pay the required bond to Lambeth at the same time they were slashing the cost of tickets – all creating the impression it was a venture that wasn’t looking successful. But realistically, it was hard to see it not going ahead so late in the day when, one would assume, there were already many who had made travel plans and were preparing to descend on the Common for the bank holiday weekend.

The bond has, apparently, been paid and it’s entirely possible thousands of people will be descending on the Common for the weekend. While many have the impression that responsible stewardship of the Common or engaging local residents are unimportant to Lambeth when compared to the revenue raising potential of such events we can only hope the event is successfully managed and works well.

The organisers have issued a contact number which residents can use from this Thursday (28 April) for the duration of the event: 07957 990420. It will also be monitored by Lambeth officers so should be useful for dealing with any matters or problems related to the site.

It seems Camp Royale don’t, yet, have permission to set up a camp on Clapham Common. According to a Lambeth Council statement:

The Camp Royale event has not yet been approved, but has been granted an ‘in principle’ agreement for a family event with a campsite of 1806 tents and capacity of 4000 people.  This means that the council is satisfied that the event can be run safely within the council’s strict guidelines.

The next stage is to discuss the proposal with local residents and elected councillors before a final decision about whether the event can take place.
If agreed, the campsite would be managed totally separately from any event activity on the common. The entertainment will be accessible to all Lambeth families free of charge to enjoy this special day.  All the events we run on Clapham Common have restrictions on noise levels, health and safety and adhere to all the normal by-laws in force at the park.

I suspect they only refer to Lambeth residents and councillors so will have to watch closely for the formal consultation.

It does strike me as a little naughty that Camp Royale are talking of 10,000 places and taking cash from people just six weeks before the event without even hinting that it might not happen at all. If you are customer 4,001 (or even the first customer if it’s rejected) you aren’t going to have much time to make alternative arrangements, especially in that price range.

I was astounded last week when I first heard of the idea of letting 10,000 people camp on Clapham Common for the Royal Wedding. I was even more astounded yesterday when a BBC News article about the plan was published and then to discover that the organisers not only have a website, but are taking bookings – £75 for three nights, or £105 for camping and National Express travel.

The BBC article is slightly worrying:

Clapham Common could be turned into a campsite equipped for 10,000 people to celebrate the royal wedding.

Organisers are planning to turn the south London common into a campsite for three nights for revellers on a budget.

It is, possibly, a sign that I’m getting old and becoming something of a nimby, but I can’t say I’m overly keen on the idea of a new 10,000 place campsite on my doorstep (well, not really mine, I live in the north of the ward, but it’s definitely the ward’s doorstep). And maybe I’m reading too much into the word ‘revellers’, but I certainly recall the problems caused by badly managed events on the Common when I first became a councillor.

While event management on the Common has improved – in large part, I suspect, because the scale has reduced – I know many long-term residents in the south of the ward will hear of the plans with some trepidation.

It might only be three nights, and I have no problem whatsoever, with people coming to London to enjoy the Royal Wedding. I do have a problem with it when it could potentially cause huge disruption to residents who don’t seem to have been consulted at all!

Clapham Common, although partly in Wandsworth, is managed by Lambeth Council who would certainly be the ones to licence any event. I can’t say the BBC article filled me confidence when it revealed:

Lambeth Council could not confirm if a licence had been granted for the event but said if it did go ahead there would be strict rules on noise and litter.

If they don’t even know whether a licence has been granted it’s hard to see how they can enforce strict rules on noise and litter!

Enquiries within Wandsworth Council suggests that no-one there has heard of the event, possibly because no licence application has been made to Lambeth, or possibly because Lambeth did not consult us. We are, however, keen to find out whether our next door neighbours are planning on having 10,000 around for a three-night sleepover!

The results of the council’s consultation on traffic control in the Stormont Road area (which in reality is most of the roads between Clapham Common and Lavender Hill) were considered by the council’s transport committee last night.

They were, frankly, more an exercise in showing how consultation often doesn’t help anyone come to a conclusion! Of the 2,700+ consultation forms sent out only 457 were returned (around 1 in 6). And the opinion was not terribly conclusive.

One of the ideas was to ban right turns from Clapham Common Northside into the roads in the area. The purpose behind this is to prevent rat-running from people who want to head north but avoid the one way loop around part of Clapham Common that keeps them on roads better suited for higher traffic volumes. For this, 46% of respondents liked the idea… and 46% of people didn’t like the idea!

The other suggestion was to reverse the one-way flow of Lavender Gardens. While this wasn’t as evenly balanced, it was hardly a conclusive result, 33% opposed it, 23% supported it and 45% expressed no opinion (to be fair the result in Lavender Gardens itself was much more conclusive, with 68% against and 32% in support).

On the basis of the results the council will be progressing the introduction of 24 hour no right turns from Clapham Common Northside into the roads, but looking at alternative means of controlling the traffic in Lavender Gardens.

It is proof that the council does listen to consultations. But also evidence that it’s sometimes very hard to hear what they are saying – the voice of Lavender Gardens was clear, but the result on the right turns couldn’t have been closer, and guarantees that whatever the council does it would make half the people unhappy!

A cynic, however, might suggest that the clearest result of all is that 5 out of 6 people don’t care enough to spend a few minutes completing and sending off a pre-paid form.

The full paper and detailed results along with three appendices can be found on the council’s website.