1.1 Each year, the Council hosts approximately 15 funfair and circus events plus approximately 15 community events (e.g. local festivals and sports days) in parks under hire or lease agreements with private or voluntary operators. The events contribute £75k-£80k income each year towards running the borough-wide Events and Festivals programme for the borough. This programme is reviewed annually and submitted to Cabinet for approval in the early part of the respective calendar year. For 2009, each Ward Forum that was involved was consulted by email prior to the Cabinet report being prepared. The programme is managed by the Events Team – provided by an external company, The Event Umbrella – and is managed by Environment and Leisure.

1.2 Each event is monitored by event team staff and Rangers to ensure the organiser is managing the site safely and cleanly and with as little impact on the site and residents as possible. Site reinstatement necessary after each event (e.g. damage to grass, oil spillages or waste left on site) is charged against a deposit paid by the organiser (up to £5k for larger events); extra is invoiced or the remainder returned to the organiser as appropriate in each case. This management system ensures that the Council does not pay for site damage caused by the event organiser.

1.3 In 2009, Councillors and residents raised concerns that the damage to Acton Green Common has not been repaired as quickly as it might and that there are long-term effects on the health of the park’s turf and infrastructure that are not covered by the repairs after individual bookings. A petition related to this was submitted to the Council in April 2009. Acton Green Common hosted four events in 2009 with gross income valued at £12k.

1.4 The Parks Service were already working to make provisions for more grounds maintenance at sites that hold the most events in order to offset long-term compaction and to improve the speed and quality of reinstatement after events have finished. The Parks Service committed to reviewing the community events programme in detail and providing greater transparency for 2010, including pricing and costs of long-term restoration. At present, no events are organised for 2010. In addition to this Scrutiny Report, consultation has been taking place with Ward Councillors and a Cabinet Report will be written in February or March for final approval for the 2010 events.

The review included:

Short term reinstatement and deposit system

2.1 Community events in parks can be classified as large commercial events (funfairs and circuses) or smaller community organised events. Short-term damage to sites such as wheel ruts can be reinstated relatively quickly through filling, levelling and seeding. The cost of short-term reinstatement per year is dependent on weather conditions and the cost in 2009 is captured in the table below:



cost (£K)


Acton Green Common


Grass: solid spiking (harrow, topsoil and fill, seed)

Grass: excavate contaminated area and turf; undertake irrigation [Zippos]

Paths: fill spike holes [Zippos]


Acton Park


Note Thames Water works forced change of location


Ealing Common


Topsoil and seed worn areas, less damage due to use of temporary trackway.




Permanent trackway installed and mostly effective




Grass: solid spiking (harrow, topsoil and fill, seed)






2.2 Commercial events provide a cash deposit (£5K in the case of funfairs) that is held in an accounts holding code. Smaller community events provide a signed cheque as a bond for return to the organiser if the site is left in good condition. Once an event is concluded, if there is no claim against a cash deposit, it is rolled over to the next event including into the next year (still within the holding code) or returned if no other event is planned. Deposits by cheque are returned to the organiser. It is written into the event organisers’ contract that the event organisers are liable for all costs above the bond if damage exceeds the amount deposited with the council.

2.3 A pre and post event site inspection is always undertaken. Improvements were made to this process for 2009 with the introduction of photographic surveys and it will be further improved for 2010. If the after event inspection reveals damage directly attributable to the event, the Contract Manager is expected to provide an itemised quote to the Community and Street Events Coordinator who will then present it to the event organiser. When agreed, the cost of reinstatement should be deducted from the deposit holding account to pay for the works. The Parks Service will then organise the reinstatement through the term grounds maintenance contract.

2.4 The deposit retained in 2009-10 is c£3K for Acton Green Common, leaving £10k to be paid from the grounds maintenance reactive works budget.

3 Long term damage

3.1 Heavy vehicle movement which can be typical of large commercial events causes compaction of the subsoil, which if repeated over time can result in localised grass level depressions, drainage problems and patchy grass re-growth. There are five sites that are used heavily enough by commercial event operators and the sites are showing long-term use problems, there is however, no current site improvement system in place to relieve the problems. There are various methods of undertaking soil amelioration or de-compaction, and such operations are mostly undertaken in autumn to achieve the best improvements to grass growth and soil structure. There are 3 main options for remediation work; all park event areas are generally contained within areas of 1hectare (ha) (1ha measures 100 square metres):


4 System of management and inspections

4.1 There is a new agreed pro forma sheet for pre and post event inspections which will be used by the Park Rangers for the 2010 season. Photographic evidence by Park Rangers has been compiled in the 2009 event season. For the 2010 events season, officers will present clearly attributable after event damage costs to the Community and Street Events Coordinator for short-term damage that will be funded by event organiser. Long-term damage such as compaction at entrance points will be considered separately as the damage may be caused by multiple users entering/leaving a given site.

5 Events Safety and Licensing Group

5.1 Regarding communication and coordination, the Events Safety and Licensing Group operates monthly meetings chaired by the Community and Street Events Coordinator. The meeting group is compromised of; the Southall Police unit in charge of events, Licensing, Parks, Community Safety, Emergency Planning, Emergency Services, Highways, and Environmental Health. This group is an effective unit for managing safety and licensing issues.

5.2 Specific areas of complaint received by the events team have covered noise, parking and crime. Items such as noise are an issue that event organiser are required to manage as part of the events hire agreement and any complaints are reported to Environmental Health. Parking is not measured but the event organisers themselves are allowed to park on site. Generally parking is so restricted around sites that most attendees would be travelling by public transport.

6 Other costs

6.1 Events do on occasions cause damage to parks infrastructure, such as gates, fences or paths, and where proven to be caused as a result of the event are chargeable to the organiser of the event concerned.

6.2 Non-direct event staff time is not included in chargeable costs. Only a small amount of time is specifically dedicated to community events – for example, Park Ranger checks on events – and this work is carried out as part of the course of their routine duties. As this cost is not a realisable financial saving, this type of staff time is not included as part of the costs review.

7 Benchmarking

7.1 The Community and Street Events Coordinator undertook a benchmarking study through the London Events Forum covering hire charges. This study began in October and several responses were received from other Council’s. It is apparent from the information received that Ealing have some of the most expensive hire charges for funfairs and circuses: other Council’s are charging £6-9k for a large circus, whereas Ealing charges £15k for Ealing Common. There is also another report from the London Parks Benchmarking Group from 2006, which also shows Ealing to be at the top end of both day rate hires and deposits charged for funfairs. Service officers will be meeting with representatives of the fairs to discuss whether increases in pricing are possible as well as covering additional site management issues.

8 Income

8.1 The value of the programme of community events in parks (including funfairs and circuses) is estimated at £75k in 2009-10. This income is used to offset the cost of running Ealing’s Festival and Events programme throughout the borough. The local impact of events such as funfairs and circuses needs to be considered in this light, i.e. if the income from these events is reduced; the overall cost of running events will increase.

9 Conclusions

9.1 The short-term reinstatement, undertaken immediately after each event, totalled £10k in costs to the Council in 2009, (£13k less a £3k contribution from operators). This reinstatement will continue as required and, with the improved monitoring proposed, a greater contribution to costs may be sought from event organisers from 2010 onwards.

9.2 The Parks Service believes that sites seeing multiple uses for events need attention each year to ensure that the quality of the grass and the ground conditions are maintained to the optimum in the long-term for residents. It is therefore proposed that the best option for long-term reinstatement is to undertake hollow spiking each autumn on all sites. This work will be carried out in addition to the short-term repairs after each event discussed above. It is also proposed to invest further in the rotational use of a pneumatic injection system. The total cost of this work will be between £5,250 and £6,500 in total per year.

9.3 Taking the high-end long-term cost and the short-term costs of £10,000 per year, the remediation works will cost in the region of £16,500 per year. At present, the short-term costs are funded from the grounds maintenance budget, and the preferred option will leave an unfunded balance of £6.5k.

9.4 It is proposed that that the Walpole Park costs of £4k are found within the Summer Festival budget and the remaining £2.5k is funded from the community events income. Close monitoring of pre/post event damage through fixed-pointed photography will be required to demonstrate that the conditions of hire are being adhered to, and that the revised system of Council monitoring is being implemented and maintained.

10 Recommendations:

11. Legal Implications

11.1 There are no legal implications arising from this report

12. Financial implications

12.1 Commercial and community events currently provide £75k gross income to the Festival and Events budget which helps to subsidise the Borough’s own Festival and events programme. Any loss of income from commercial and community event hires will therefore impact on the cost of council run events.

12.2 A failure to ensure that the Parks that host events are maintained/reinstated to an acceptable standard for residents could affect their willingness to allow events to be hosted in given Parks placing the contribution that the events programme makes to the community at risk. A lack of reinstatement and/or event provision in parks may also affect resident satisfaction scores.

13. Other implications

13.1 There are no other implications arising from this report.