Residents rocked by concert plans

By Jonathan Kalmus, May 6, 2011

Residents of one of Manchester's largest Jewish communities have condemned plans to stage a series of local rock festivals for a potential audience of well over one million.

At the end of the month, Manchester City Council will decide on an application for the 45 days of concerts in Heaton Park, close to the thousands of Jewish families living in Prestwich.

It would allow nine concerts for up to 80,000 people, nine for a 50,000 audience and a further 27 for a 20,000 crowd. All events would have a full alcohol licence. In 2009, more than 210,000 fans attended an Oasis concert at Heaton Park.

The projected festivals would generate extra revenue for the city council, which runs the park. It does not have to count objections from Prestwich residents in official consultations because they come under neighbouring Bury Council's jurisdiction.

Annette Woolfe, who lives metres from the park, attacked the "ridiculous" proposal. She had attended the Oasis concert, but said it had affected parking for miles around and there was the additional issue of thousands of fans roaming ordinarily quiet streets.

"We had people weeing in our front garden after the concert because there weren't enough toilet facilities. Local pubs and shops had massive queues of people buying booze and there was drinking and drugs all around the park," she noted.

Bury councillor Wilf Davison said his council's objections had been ignored by Manchester. "There's not a great deal more we can do. It's gone too far now."

But fellow councillor Steve Wright, who represents large swathes of the Prestwich Jewish community, anticipated protests. "I am asking residents to continue to make objections and when the committee meeting comes we will be having a presence there to oppose it."

Raymond Solomon, UKIP candidate for Councillor Wright's ward, reported widespread anger from Jewish residents as he canvassed for the local elections. "People are not happy. The religious Jewish community don't want it, but this issue really crosses religious lines. The feeling is to stop it now before the council start putting events on every month."

Manchester City Council head of sports and leisure Eamonn O'Rourke said money generated from the concerts would be reinvested in the park.

"As always, we will work closely with residents, neighbouring authorities and partners such as Greater Manchester Police to ensure that these events run smoothly. A consultation on this licensing application is currently under way and we welcome all views from members of the public."

Last updated: 11:01am, May 6 2011