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Plants and Protests

Plants and Protests

Every Picture Tells a Story.

Members who live anywhere near to the parks, particularly the east side of Hyde Park and the south of Kensington Gardens will be well aware that, for months, there have been demonstrations taking place on the Parade Ground. It’s a huge, open, beautifully turfed inviting space for any group wanting somewhere to gather. Without major events constructing and decommissioning their paraphernalia and no ceremonial events taking place, the space it appears, is up for grabs.

The last two Saturdays had enormous gatherings in support of Palestine.

Manager, Jason Taylor told me, before the most recent one (22nd May) he talked to the organisers. He told them it would be unauthorised and was not approved in any way. Having then been told they would go ahead anyway, he took the pragmatic approach and worked on how to minimise potential damage.

 ....every picture tells a story of this Saturday afternoon

The Palestine group who used experienced stewards were warned about litter. Both Jason and duty manager on the day, Rob Dowling, confirmed that the leaders were directing the crowd to take litter home, or dispose of it in proper places. This worked well and Rob commented that a sudden very heavy burst of rain scattered the crowd which resulted in some rubbish being dumped. OCS, our terrific cleaning team who work endlessly after these events, had got the Parade ground into good shape by 7pm.

The police estimate of 20,000 attending was over taken by the organisers claim of 180,000. Rob’s estimate was 70,000 and we’ll go with that. Still, it was a very large turn out and on a long hot May Saturday could well have gone on into the night, with other groups piling in.
The Parade Ground at 7pm

Jason and I have talked at length about how vulnerable the Parade Ground is to events like this. We are looking forward to the return of some events which will bring in much needed income and the area will be there for all members of the public to enjoy. Also, it would be a pleasure to host ceremonial events again with gun salutes and military inspections. These would take it right back to when Hyde Park was first mapped after its status as a royal hunting ground had been changed and Queen Elizabeth 1 inspected her troops on exactly the same ground (but the quality of the grass may not have been so good).

Our ‘General Meeting’ (voting to take place on another day in the future) via Zoom on Wednesday was a really enjoyable chance to hear from the managers, Jason Taylor and Andy Williams, and Royal Parks director, Tom Jarvis, about plans, news, coping with climate change, use of parks looking ahead for future generations and managing in difficult times. Fabulous photos slid across our screens all through the three presentations. 64 screens signed on, so I expect a larger number than that were watching and listening to it all. Our minute secretary took a very good note and summary of what was said and it won’t be long before we can load them onto the website.

Lively Q & A’s followed and discussion, as much as one can have through a chat bar too (or is it a box?). Feedback and warm messages of support are still coming in and offers of practical support as well. It’s all much appreciated, with emails being forwarded in all directions.