Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Oval SNT police consultation on closing Kennington Park Midnight path at night

Apologies for the late notice, but I only discovered this afternoon (through @KenParkFriends on Twitter) that the Oval SNT will be conducting a consultation from 5.30pm TONIGHT (Wednesday 13th October) about closing the Midnight path through Kennington Park at night.  The midnight park connects Kennington residents in Lambeth with Kennington residents in Southwark and is a quick and useful cut through.  It always looks well used to me, especially at weekends.

This evening, the police will ask anybody that walks through the park whether they use the path at night, whether they feel safe when using the path and if they don't feel safe, whether they would like the path to be closed at night.

Apparently, 21 robberies have taken place recently (may have been over the last year, but I missed that crucial piece of info), and 80% of them have taken place when the park has been closed, and the majority of people that have been robbed have been men.

This is just the start of the consultation, and residents on both the Brandon Estate and the other side of the park are due to be consulted on the matter.  My view (since you asked) is that it's better not to use the path if you don't feel safe, and I'd argue against its closure.  Feel free to go to the consultation this evening and make your own views known. 

I wish I'd heard about this earlier, as it's of interest to local people.  I still can't figure out where it's been publicised up to this point.


Mark said...

No mention of it on the Oval SNT website - - bit disappointing really.

I'm sure it's a well-intentioned move, but I'd be inclined to agree with you - individuals should be able to make an informed decision about whether or not to take the route. I'm not familiar with the path in question... but is there a way to improve safety with lighting / introduction of convex mirrors? (potential Ward Purse project?)

No longer anon said...

I don't need to use the path so my comments should be weighed less.

I would vote to close the cut through. I would then argue that there is no longer a need for a cut though, and thus it should be removed and the park no longer sectioned in two. I find it quite a barrier to an otherwise open green space.

The result would be those who like to cut through would have to travel around on well lit, much more dense streets - not as likely on said streets to get robbed.

Mark said...

The police tried to do this in 2002 and failed, but it took the intervention of Kate Hoey to do it.

I don't know the circumstances now but back then the salient facts were:

a) gay men were using the midnight path to get access to the park.

b) once in the park they were being preyed on by muggers.

c) because they weren't supposed to be in the park, they were claiming that the muggings had occurred on the midnight path.

The case for closing the midnight path is therefore a lot about restricting access to the park at night. The big losers will be the people who live on the Brandon Estate and around Wells Road. I wonder if they have been asked. Back in 2002 they were up in arms at the proposal for closure.

Better lighting on the midnight path may be an answer. Work from gay support groups like Stonewall to emphasise the risks of straying into the park at night would also be of help.

SE11 Lurker said...

Mark, thank you. This is vital historical information that I'd no knowledge of on account of being a relative new comer.

I was rather unimpressed by the consultation last night which appeared to see the police on bikes disappear at about 7pm (just when you'd imagine that the real night time users would start using the path). I had no idea that Kate Hoey intervened last time, and I wonder if she's aware that the issue has been raised again. There's no publicity on the park gates warning what might happen.

The police I spoke to last night were very much of the view that most people they'd spoken to were in favour of closing the path at night (even though they were the people using it) and the police added that it only takes 5 mins to walk the long way. The officers I spoke to also said that they'd been notified of 3 crimes that had taken place on the path that they'd not known about before, implying that the problem is even worse than previously specified.

I very occasionally use the path at night, and am vaguely wondering about drawing up some A3 posters, warning park users of what might be happening, in case anybody wants to contact the SNT to either advocate in favour or agaisnt path closure.

No longer anon said...

Just saw Gordon's letter, which means my original comment is mute. I had not realised that the path was not part of the park, so I'm out!

peoplesrepublicofsouthwark said...

as someone who grew up in a different country, i find the idea of closing public spaces/parks at any one point really strange - was this always the case or was there a point in history when they started locking up london parks?
one of the slightly surreal arguments heard for crime in burgess park development consultations is that shrubbery is 'helping' the muggers as they're good hiding places to mug from. therefore we shall have no shrubbery. as if not having 'good hiding places' would somehow stop people intent on/forced to turn to crime.

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