Residents suggest Primrose Hill on New Year’s Eve should be ticketed following ‘hooliganism’
PUBLISHED: 12:45 08 January 2015 | UPDATED: 12:45 08 January 2015
The Mayor of London’s decision to charge for London’s main fireworks display on New Year’s Eve has been slammed as a “catastophe” after it left Primrose Hill flooded with tens of thousands of revellers – and victim to vandals, hooligans and even people defecating in the park.
The usually tranquil and leafy village saw itself transformed on New Year’s Eve as the many unable to get a ticket headed to the Hill instead to watch the display.
But with no crowd management and insufficient numbers of extra police officers, residents say unless something is done Primrose Hill will have to introduce its own charges to enter the park.
James Miller, who lives in Regents Park Road, said: “The sheer number of people this year was ridiculous. There must have been anywhere up to 50,000 people, and no event management to speak of.
“I had to stand out there from 11.30pm to 2am after seeing streams of stinking urine in the entrance to my dwelling. I saw hundreds of people urinating on residents’ doors.
“With no exaggeration, the park itself resembled a landfill site the following day.
“I’ve lived in the area since 2003 and have seen New Year’s Eve on the Hill go from a hidden gem that attracted a few hundred, to being an internationally recognised venue. We need ticketing and professional events management.”
Royal Parks staff tasked with clearing up the aftermath were said to have described it as the worst they’d seen in 30 years.
Phil Cowan, who lives in Albert Terrace, which overlooks the park, was furious at the lack of planning involved.
He said: “I’ve never seen it like this before – it was complete chaos and the whole area was left wrecked.
“There was still broken glass everwhere for days after, my door was used as a toilet and the fruit trees community volunteers had planted last year were ripped up.
“I don’t understand why the police didn’t think to provide more officers. I only saw one police car the whole evening.
“I’d hate for it to happen, but unless something is done they’ll have to introduce tickets to enter Primrose Hill too.”
Cllr Jonny Bucknell, Conservative representative for neighbouring Belsize, also questioned the lack of police, awaking on New Year’s Day to discover some rowdy revellers had tried to take his mobility scooter for a joyride.
He said: “I left it outside Chalk Farm station only to find it had moved 100 yards down the road and pushed to the other side of the street.
“Everything had been torn off it, including the handle. Boris should have free fireworks next year. It’s clear we need to keep the crowds in central London.”
Many residents took to Twitter to express their anger over what they perceived as poor planning on behalf of the authorities.
Journalist John Ryan suggested facilities were so inadequate people were defecating in the park, tweeting: “Primrose Hill trashed this [morning] as people denied the South Bank switched allegiance last night. Empty bottles, human faeces etc.”
Cllr Jonathan Simpson, Camden Council’s cabinet member for community safety, also called for Boris to abandon the ticketing. He questioned the lack of police, saying: “It seems the police haven’t planned on the extra numbers coming through, which is regrettable.”
A Royal Parks spokesperson said: “Extra bins were placed around the park and our clean-up team worked overnight into New Year’s Day. Prior to NYE we placed posters around the park and information was added on our social networking site and website advising visitors to be considerate and respectful and to take litter home.”
Chief inspector Simon Davis, of Royal Parks Police, said: “We estimated that a crowd of between six and seven thousand visited Primrose Hill on Wednesday night to see in the New Year. Police Officers were present throughout, monitoring crowds and ensuring public safety.
“The Metropolitan Police will continue to work with the The Royal Parks, to plan for the next New Year’s celebrations to try to ensure that revellers and local residents enjoy themselves with the minimum of inconvenience.”