Hackney Council’s FOI silence over Radio One Weekend

Hackney Council has failed to respond to a request for details of the full costs to the borough of hosting the Radio One Hackney Weekend last June – and the matter is now being pursued by the Information Commissioner’s Office.

The Council has been claiming that “Major events also generate income, which can be reinvested into the borough’s parks, and helps support upkeep and improvement works in green spaces.” Having recently held an ‘informal consultation’ on future similar major events on Hackney Marshes, there was a striking lack of detailed information about financial or any other arrangements, and Hackney appears willing to ignore the law in order to keep important facts hidden.

Prior to last year’s event the spin was that “Radio 1’s Hackney Weekend 2012 event is funded by the BBC Licence Fee” –  but previous Radio 1 Weekends have turned out to have been heavily subsided by local authorities. Last year’s event is already known to have cost the Borough £190,000 in repairs to the Marsh – this alone would be more than the rent received for any similar sized commercial event.

In 2009 the Radio 1 Weekend cost Swindon £400,000 –  if Hackney’s costs are similar, every household in the borough will have been forced to pay £4 to bankroll the 2-day event which left sports pitches ruined and locked regular users out of the Marshes for a month, contrary to assurances made to the Planning Inspectorate.

The 20 working day limit by which they should lawfully have responded expired several weeks ago without explanation for a delay. Hackney has had a number of Decision Notices issued against it by the Information Commissioner for its delays in releasing information and other breaches of regulations.

A further information request, for evidence to support the claim that 30,000 Hackney residents attended the Radio 1 Hackney Weekend, has also received no response. How this remarkably round number was arrived at remains a mystery, as it had been promised that 50% of the 100,000 tickets claimed to have been issued were reserved for Hackney residents.

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