This summer’s Formula E in Battersea Park will be the last after heavy public opposition forced the event’s organisers to look for a site elsewhere, it was announced on Wednesday.
The news came a day before Battersea resident James Jackson’s legal action against Wandsworth Council over the E-prix was due to be heard in the High Court — a challenge which has now been dropped after protesters agreed a deal with the championship’s owners.
Today the council’s Labour and Conservative representatives exchanged blows about the affair.
Wandsworth Labour, who opposed the electric racing show taking place in Battersea Park, welcomed Formula E’s decision to withdraw from future events there — and accused the Conservative-run council of making a U-turn.
Leader Simon Hogg said: “The council was wrong to steamroller through this event against very strong local opposition.
“The withdrawal of this event from a Grade II listed park is testimony to what can be achieved by people power and I applaud those who campaigned against it.”
Labour Councillor Fleur Anderson sat on the committee which voted on the E-prix last year.
She said: “The decision to go ahead with this event, which I opposed, shows yet again that Wandsworth Council is too willing make decisions based on money rather on the will of their electorate.”
Wandsworth Council hit back by saying that the £2.85million raised in payment for hosting Formula E has gone towards maintaining the park and protecting services such as libraries, day centres for pensioners and disability support groups.
They added that the decision not to hold the championship at Battersea Park in future was made by Formula E bosses alone and that the council had intended to defend its position in the High Court.
Cabinet member for community services Councillor Jonathan Cook said: “I am proud it was this council that brought such a prestigious global event to London and I look forward to July’s races which will be enjoyed by thousands of Londoners and Wandsworth residents alike.”
Protesters had raised concerns about safety and noise in relation to the racing championships, as well as the potential for disruption during the busy summer period, with a council report finding that 62% of Battersea residents opposed the event.
Last year’s E-prix in Battersea Park faced criticisms over its long set-up and failure to deliver on promises to provide electric power points for Wandsworth.
The council has reached a financial agreement with Formula E, which includes compensation for loss of income in 2017.
Formula E will go ahead on July 2 and 3 as planned, but organisers will look for an alternative location in London for their event in future.
Image courtesy of ITV4 via YouTube, with thanks
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