Tower Hamlets Council have decided that the Art Pavilion in Mile End Park is to be used for weddings instead of Art exhibitions every year from June to August inclusively and perhaps running into May and September.
This decision was made in a closed session of the King George's Field Charity Board (which is a committee consisting of the Mayor and his cabinet) on the 29th of January in a meeting attended by 3 out of the 10 members of the board. The meeting, which had a very long agenda, lasted 40 minutes. The Friends of Mile End Park were not consulted about this proposal and were informed of the decision afterwards on the 4th of March. We were also informed:
- Extra catering facilities including taps & sinks, a cupboard for cleaning equipment, a storage room for tables and chairs, and a room to accommodate five people in privacy signing the marriage register;
- Metal gates to be closed to exclude park users from the island area and Pavilion, including the toilets, during private functions.
- A marquee will be an option to be erected on the Park.
FOMEP have numerous concerns:
- Why was the decision made in secret?
- Why weren't park users or those living nearby consulted?
- Why was the application to the Superintendent Registrar for a license to conduct weddings at the venue made months before the Charity Board approved of the proposal?
- Is this change of use to our Millennium funded building legally permitted?
- The withdrawal during weddings of toilets needed by park users, especially the elderly and young children will greatly affect park users.
- What affect will this have on Regents Lake, the wedding venue located in Bow Wharf on the former Jongleurs/Bar Risa site?
- Should the council be setting itself up in direct competition to a nearby growing business?
- Parking by wedding guests will cause great inconvenience to the residents of Clinton Road
- Undoubtedly what is at present a peaceful and calm part of the park will be become noisy.
- Most of the Art Shows take place over the summer (lighter) months and to limit its use to the winter period would effectively lead to its closure as an art venue.
For many years the Art Pavilion was underused, but for the last two years or so it has been transformed by a volunteer curator, so that more often than not, there are free public exhibitions on every week. These bring in quite a substantial income (the Art might be free to look at, but it isn't usually free to exhibit!).
Above all else we, The Friends of Mile End Park, regret the loss of what has become a great free local art venue where you can pop in, grab a coffee, and have a look whilst having a walk in the park. To fence off the lake area, erect a marquee, bar access to the toilets and drinking water will affect park users greatly and would ruin this area of the park.
If you share our concerns regarding this change to the park please do come along to the next Friends of Mile End Park Meeting on Thursday 10 April at 7.30 pm in the Eco Pavilion (as the Art Pavilion is closed from the1st of April to allow the necessary building work to begin). Steve Murray, Head of Arts and Parks has confirmed he will attend.