Regent's Park soccer screen plans axed
Ben Pearce CONTROVERSIAL plans to broadcast matches from this summer's football World Cup to thousands of fans in Regent s Park have been scrapped. On Tuesday the Greater London Authority (GLA) dramatically withdrew their application for the 20,000 capaci
CONTROVERSIAL plans to broadcast matches from this summer's football World Cup to thousands of fans in Regent's Park have been scrapped.
On Tuesday the Greater London Authority (GLA) dramatically withdrew their application for the 20,000 capacity fan zone at Gloucester Green just 10 days before Camden Council licensing chiefs were due to meet to discuss the bid.
Hundreds of residents around Regent's Park and local councillors had objected to the plan fearing drunken hordes would wreak havoc and cause long lasting damage to the park.
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London Zoo had also protested fearing the noise levels would distress their animals and Regent's Park Open Air Theatre had also lodged objections.
A source at Camden police told the Ham&High they were "all systems go" in preparing their own opposition.
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The Ham&High understands GLA bosses realised the huge am-ount of hostility to the 'Fan Fest' meant it was likely Camden Coun-cil would reject it and so without a license to sell alcohol it would have been financially unviable.
A very relieved Malcolm Kafetz, chairman of the Friends of Regent's Park group, who had mobilised hundreds of residents against the plan, said: "It was just a very silly idea. The application was completely ridiculous. We would have had a situation where the Open Air Theatre would have lost money and the animals in the zoo would have gone mad. It was just completely stupid.
"I don't think the GLA realised we are a bit vicious sometimes. Our job is to look after the park and make sure they don't do anything stupid. That is our remit."
London Assembly member for Camden and Barnet Brian Coleman claimed credit for persuading Boris to change his mind and withdraw the "nonsense" application.
He said: "I raised this with Boris directly, publicly and privately, and he has changed his mind. I don't know and don't care what they do next. I think Camden Council would have turned it down anyway.
"Common sense has prevailed and peace and tranquility will remain in Regent's Park. The Open Air Theatre will be able to function in peace instead of having 20,000 drunken football fans lolling around."
The Fan Fest would have seen 60 out of the 64 matches during this year's World Cup screened in the park. The GLA, who applied on behalf of football world governing body FIFA billed it as a family event but planned to sell alcohol throughout the games.
Organisers believed a successful event would have given England's much needed bid to host the World Cup in 2018 a much needed boost.
A spokesman for the GLA said: "We were considering Regent's Park as a possible location for a Fan Fest, but legitimate concerns highlighted by our consultation raised doubts about the commercial viability of the plan to hold it there and we are now focusing on the other options available.