Councillors approve the return of Formula E

Published: Wednesday 25th November 15

Formula E racing is set to return to Battersea Park after councillors last night (Tuesday) voted in favour of the event being staged again next year and the year after.

Councillors on the community services scrutiny committee voted in favour of its return after hearing that June’s weekend of racing had been a success with more than 55,000 people attending – including around 9,000 Wandsworth residents.

Seven thousand borough residents purchased tickets to the event while another 2,000 free tickets were given to local schools, amenity groups and residents associations in the area around Battersea Park. This means that in total more than 16 per cent of those who attended lived in the borough.

Giving the event the green light for two more years also guarantees that Battersea Park will benefit from a total extra investment of £600,000 – a sum that could rise to £1m if the races are permitted for another two years beyond 2017.

Additional revenue will also be generated for the public purse from the event which will help fund important local frontline services and at the same time play a role in keeping Wandsworth’s council tax bills as low as possible.

Councillors heard that although this year’s inaugural races had been very well organised, important lessons had been learned which will be put into practice over the next two summers to ensure that disruption to people’s normal enjoyment of the park is kept to the absolute minimum,.

This will involve more strictly controlled segregation of park users from vehicles involved in the circuit set-up and removal and the potential introduction of rolling temporary closures around the park’s perimeter road during these build phases.

The delivery of Formula E infrastructure materials is also set to be reviewed and streamlined to ensure a reduced impact on the park during the build process.

Noise levels are also likely to be reduced for future races. The organisers of Formula E have pledged to significantly increase the number of free audio earphones given to spectators so the race commentary does not need to be relayed through a public address system that can be heard in nearby homes.

The organisers will also explore alternatives to using helicopters to deliver aerial shots of the race. Some residents complained about excessive helicopter noise on the first day of racing and although this was drastically reduced on day two, it did cause annoyance to local residents and attempts will be made to address this.

Councillors were also told that marshalling will be improved for next year – especially during the build and de-rig phases and that better signage will also be put in place so that park visitors are fully aware that, as was the case this year, most of the park’s 205 acres remain open for their use and enjoyment right up to the race weekend.

The committee heard that the park remained almost fully open to the public apart from only four days in June - the weekend of racing and a two day intensive race infrastructure de-rig immediately afterwards.

During this four day period, however, joggers, strollers and dog walkers and other members of the public were still able to enjoy the park’s picturesque riverside walk and a section of green open space near the Millennium Arena athletics track which were kept open throughout.

The committee also heard that there was no long-term damage to the park, apart from very some minor cosmetic works which have since been put right by Formula E. A small number of trees had suffered one or two very small broken branches but none had suffered any long-term ill-effects.

And apart from the resurfacing of the badly rutted and potholed car parks and former boules area, which was also funded by Formula E, there had been virtually no new hardstanding added to the park to allow the races to take place.

A post event review conducted by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) had concluded that none of the park’s important historical features had suffered any damage or harm.

Community services spokesman Cllr Jonathan Cook said: “I fully welcome and applaud this decision. It is the right decision for Battersea Park and also for the wider general population of Wandsworth.

“Granting permission for Formula E to return for the next two years means we have secured a total of £600,000 of new funding for a whole range of improvements in the park itself, and there are also additional sums we will receive that will be used to help fund frontline council services for our vulnerable residents and which can also help keep our council tax bills as low as possible – something of huge importance to those in our community who are on low or fixed incomes.

“Despite the grim warnings that came from some opponents beforehand, the simple truth is that the event did not cause the mayhem and destruction they predicted. There was some disruption of course, but this only really affected the perimeter road, and once beyond that there were literally hundreds of untouched acres of beautiful green open space for people to enjoy as they would at any other time of the year.

“We are confident that the important lessons we learned from this year’s inaugural set of races will mean that any disruption caused in the build up to next year’s races can be kept to the absolute bare minimum.”

Staging the races in the park puts Battersea at the heart of this new global sport and is expected to provide a great boost to London’s tourism trade. 

Formula E racing cars use cutting edge electric motors that produce virtually no noise and no harmful emissions. They are powered by batteries that are charged up using a sea algae that produces water not exhaust fumes from technology invented by a south London firm.  The advanced type of electric motors used in their racing cars are likely to be fitted as standard in the next generation of electrically powered family saloons and hatchbacks.

The council is also a keen supporter of the British motor racing industry which generates thousands of jobs in the UK’s engineering sector. Earlier this year trade and investment minister Lord Maude said: “Formula E has vital implications far beyond the motorsport industry. It is a locus of R&D around electric cars; offers an important opportunity to promote and generate interest around these cars; and promotes clean energy and sustainability.”

He highlighted the fact that 500 London buses are being fitted with an energy recovery system conceived by Williams Formula One and manufactured by UK engineering company GKN. This enables buses to improve their fuel economy and lower their CO2 emissions by over 20 per cent, reducing their impact on air quality in the capital.

Last year the HLF published a landmark report – ‘The State of UK Public Parks 2014: Renaissance to risk?’ which urged local authorities to devise new ways of securing funding to pay for the upkeep of parks and green spaces. It warned that “unless future funding is generated in new ways, parks are at serious risk of rapid decline and even being sold off and lost to the public forever” 

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Recent comments

Appalling park abuse and undemocratic. This event denied 100,000+ members of the public use of a public park during 4 days closure and negatively affected 500,000+ park visits over 3 weeks. In the council poll a truly paltry 478 people from the whole of Wandsworth voted in favour of the event - representing 0.15% of the Wandsworth population. Wandsworth Guardian poll finished 83% against. Local Wandsworth attendance was only 7,000 (12.6%) - absolutely rubbish for such an easy to get to event. Local attendance in the park if no Formula E over the 4 days but just a park? 85,000+? 80-90%? Councillors involved will forever be associated with this ugly precedent for the privatisation of a public park in summer. Shame on you Wandsworth Council.

15 December 2015

Suzanne, I am glad your referred to numbers because whilst 87% of the 1,000 to 1,400 respondents may have been against. Over 60,000 people attended including at least 7,000 borough residents who paid for tickets (a further 2,000 free tickets were distributed). So assuming those who paid money to go are for it, that makes the weighting at least 7:1 so maybe the 7:4 council vote is undervaluing resident opinion. As I said NIMBYism at its worst! The lack of traffic on the day highlights what great transportation links the venue has making it an ideal place to host.

11 December 2015

Nothing about vote was 7-4 in favour. Nothing about the fact the matter has been referred to full Council for a decision so no green light at present.

7 December 2015

Brilliant news. Battersea Park is my local park (12 minutes walk) and a lovely place to be. The introduction of a world class event with minimal disruption to both the park and surrounding area was just awesome. There is more damage to the environment because of the traffic jams at the new traffic lights system at Queenstown Road/ Chelsea Bridge roundabout ( scrap that please ) than are ever caused by this event. Bring it on !
Nicholas Allison

2 December 2015

How very very sad. Three weeks, hundreds and hundreds of HGV trucks bringing in thousands of tons of pre cast concrete and grandstands etc. The carbon footprint will be massive (oh the irony) to make this event happen. As London's population gets denser and denser we need parks and open space to chill out and play more than ever, they are the jewel in our city's crown. Formula E's three weeks occupation of Battersea Park is the time when the trees and plants are in full bloom and perfect for the public. Siverstone or Brands Hatch would have been perfect and far more environmentally friendly. Hey ho.

1 December 2015

How does the Council know that there was no long-term damage to trees whose roots were crushed by construction vehicles? Trees take time to die. And if Formula E demands wider tracks so that cars can pass each other, how much more damage will be done to accommodate commercial interests? £600,000 over 2 years is a paltry sum in compensation for the damage and disruption to the park.
local resident Peta

30 November 2015

What a whitewash! What a sick joke! 'Over 55,000 people attended': are you kidding? We braced ourselves for a massive influx of cars in local streets on the race days, and they were virtually EMPTY! To cap it all, Wandsworth had gone to the lengths of changing local Resident Parking signs in anticipation - what a waste of their time and our money! Well if the Council simply refuse to listen to the hundreds of local residents who were shocked at the 3 weeks of disruption by FE in June, they've seen nothing yet. Plans are afoot to resort to good old NVDA tactics on the day next time, that will have FE officials, sponsors and 'Yes' Councillors wetting themselves... BTW, I liked TomF's message, telling HIMSELF to calm down!! What a twit!
Ian Mursell

28 November 2015

The Conservatives of Wandsworth Borough Council have just lost our vote. Specially Councillor Govindia, Cllr Cook, Cllr Hart and Cllr Torrington. We will continue to oppose formule e in Battersea Park. The only effective way to do this is by voting out this present Conservative Council. Cllr Torrington said at the Council meeting: "a park is a luxury". On her inflated salary and many perks, she may afford a house with a garden, a lot of people cannot. The Conservatives of Wandsworth Council have become disengaged with the community. They govern by decree and by fear ("we have the lowest council taxes in England", implying that if they don't get their way, they will increase taxes). Good luck at the next elections, you will need it!!!
Roberto Kruk

28 November 2015

Three cheers to the wonderful visionary Eco warriors who run wbc! Whilst the result came as no surprise, it was helpful to be shown the nuances of how democracy really works-particularly with this wonderful balanced piece of propaganda to reinforce the 'facts'-we get a daily reminder of just how forward thinking and green wbc are by the installation of the new roundabout at the bottom of Queenstown Road-which now results in stationary traffic belching out fumes all the way up to cedars road each morning, and must have already cost London £600000 in wasted time.Wandsworth 247- its time for a gushing piece on how satisfied everyone is about the outcome of that little success story, carried out by your diligent survey team of course!
Alex Chamberlin

28 November 2015

Our society is in a bad way when decent people who passionately defend the bucolic idyll of Battersea Park and the gem that it is are treated with such lack of civility & disdain. I witnessed the committee meeting and walked away feeling quite dismayed. Battersea Park is not my local park but I use it from time to time and value it as if it was. As a Londoner, I will defend it. It is a much admired asset to our incredible city and I feel offended by the cavalier use of the word 'nimby' towards anyone who feels so strongly towards something they care about and towards our much treasured & gorgeous Victorian parks. They are integral to our day to day life in our amazing city of London and not 'luxuries'.
Gill Allen

27 November 2015

"The committee heard that the park remained almost fully open to the public apart from only four days in June" WTF?! Are they serious? And did the committee also hear that clouds are big marshmallows? Tuesday's meeting was a whitewash as is this article which reads like North Korean propaganda. There will be a reckoning. Judicial review looms. And by the way Tim the vast majority of those who responded to the Council's own survey objected which is airbrushed out of this report so not really sharing your enthusiasm for this flavour of 'democracy'.
Judy R

27 November 2015

Shame of you Wandsworth Council you never listened to the residents at all, you already made up your mind for the yes vote. All you see is ££££££££ and people don't know how much you really get for allowing this. You never cared about the children,you never cared about the residents, you never cared about the animals or the wildlife. You took all the benches away so elderly or disabled people can't rest while walking around this wonderful park. Shame of you you sold your soul for money. What next when the price is right???. You was always going to agree to allowing this.
Susan sanders

27 November 2015

Dear Tim, Your comments are not only unpleasant but they do not make sense. There is no evidence that the majority of local residents are in favour of this event. The Council's own press release said that 16% of people attending the event were from the borough. A survey conducted by the Wandsworth Guardian revealed that 87% of Wandsworth residents were opposed to the event taking place in Battersea Park. The fact that the Council approved it 7:4 does not mean that the majority of residents approve. This is nothing to do with being a "nimby", parks are for people not cars. ,we would welcome formula e on the roads of Wandsworth.
Suzanne Foster

27 November 2015

Great news. I love the way that even when the majority of people in the borough and in London are for it the minority nimby's still kick up a fuss! Its like they will only accept a 100% majority and even then will claim its unfair. A great win for democracy and for London! I just hope and wish the opposing people would accept this defeat with good grace and continue to hold true the relevant elements of their argument (i.e. maintaining a wonderful park in SW London).

27 November 2015

PARKS ARE FOR PEOPLE NOT FOR CARS. You are a disgrace Wandsworth Council & you will pay dearly come the next election.
Kathy leppard

27 November 2015

Shame on Wandsworth Council. This one sided press release does not reflect the amount of opposition to this event. A recent survey in the Wandsworth Guardian revealed that 87% of people who took part were against this event being held in Battersea Park. I am not against formula e per se, bu not in our lovely Grade 2 listed Victorian park. Put it on a racetrack on the road where cars belong. Wandsworth Council is soon to benefit with Council Tax from the 80,000 apartments being built around Nine Elms and Battersea Power Station. With this huge increase of people using Battersea Park this is the very time we should be protecting the future of our green and open spaces.
Suzanne Foster

27 November 2015

How very very sad. Three weeks, hundreds and hundreds of HGV trucks bringing in thousands of tons of pre cast concrete and grandstands etc. The carbon footprint will be massive (oh the irony) to make this event happen. As London's population gets denser and denser we need parks to chill out and play, more than ever, they are the jewel in our city's crown. It is the time when the trees and plants are in full bloom. Siverstone or Brands Hatch would have been perfect and far more environmentally friendly hey ho.

27 November 2015

This is OUTRAGEOUS - the damage disruption inconvenience and appalling mis-use of a park should be stopped NOW. This report is totally misleading and does NOT reflect the reality of the nightmare weeks when this even was staged
R Fox

27 November 2015

The decision on Formula E is entirely DISGRACEFUL. The Councillors who voted for it should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. Sir Colin Budd

27 November 2015

Fantastic news! Great to see that a world class event that brings so much to the area has been given the go-ahead despite the NIMBYism and other whiners. Last year's event was fantastic and looking forward to bringing more friends and family to Wandsworth next year! Well done Wandsworth!
Mike Thomas

27 November 2015

Calvin thanks for the sp should have been there Tuesday! It was a wonderful piece of manipulation by the Executive using the Tory whip to get this through. At least there was one Tory Cllr who did not have the stomach to see the pre-determined result pushed through and excused himself from the room

27 November 2015

John F, calm down dear. I think you need to consult a dictionary where you'll find the word you're looking for is 'sort'. I believe the vote was 7-4 in favour so I don't see what the problem is. Just because you didn't get your own way there's no need to throw your toys out of the pram. Perhaps you need to get out a bit more.
Calvin Frost

27 November 2015

Like everything coming out of Wandsworth Council on this issue, this is quite the most biased and misleading report on Formula E racing in Battersea Park that it would be possible to construct. It was extremely disruptive to around 500,000 park users over the full three week period, and excluded them completely from 97% of the park for four days, at the height of summer. It has also opened up great new swathes of tarmac for further disruptive events at other times. At this rate, in ten years there won't be a park left, just a commercial, exclusive events site. The struggle to avoid this goes on.
Paul Ekins

26 November 2015

RT idiots like you mean we end up with the sought of Council decisions made on Monday by a committee told what to think and do by the WBC Executive it was shameful

26 November 2015

Great article in Tuesday's Times accusing local professor, whose speciality is green technology, of NIMBYism. Seems to be the usual serial moaners, nimbys and the needy posting again. Get over it.
Ralph Trenton

26 November 2015

This is not the last WBC will hear of this. Articulate opposition of this strength and size will not go away. 7 to 4 was no great majority. Once the planning application is submitted - which I understand it must be - the points will be made again and again.
Celia Blair

25 November 2015

The good ship Formula E all hands to the pumps, Vice-Captain Cook and seaman Hart man your stations iceberg ahead!
Peter Plimsoll

25 November 2015

As I see it, the Council is prostituting the park in order to keep the Council Tax low so they can remain popular and stay in power. Around 200 people were at the meeting and represented 5 amenity groups all of whom disputed the Councils arguments, none of which are mentioned above. There were 8 large police persons as I left ... encase of riot ? by The Battersea Society, Friends of Battersea Park, Local residents etc LOL. I am surprised hiring out a London Park to Commercial Interests on that scale is legal; it certainly shouldn't be. The beautiful park is for the public from all over London; we are its owners, not Wandsworth Council...they are its 'trustees'...if the Council need more money for the park...put up the Council Tax.
Julia Matcham

25 November 2015

I see Caroline Cook is back in action again, Wondered how long it would be. And I hope Cllr. Ian Hart is now aware of the difference between a Council statement with comments site and a genuine petition. Statement is full of holes, but I will just say a couple of things: the cars will be noisier and will all operate at differing sound pitches. It is impossible to mitigate against the horrendous experience of last June - a few more signs, maybe, but you will just not manage it, and there will be more of the same disruption.Oh, and by the way - four courageous people last night voted against it. Let's make that clear; it was not unanimous.
susan lofthouse

25 November 2015

This decision was entirely undemocratic. The council FE report was a disgrace and biased in favour of continuing next year. They ignore the 62% of respondents in their own questionnaire who are against any continuation. The Conservatives who voted this through are clearly incapable of independent thought. Kim Caddy - what a two-faced individual she is whose summary at the end of the meeting was clearly dictated to her by the real villain Cllr Jonathan Cook and she clearly hadn't listened to the depositions - all 5 strongly opposed to FE desecrating Battersea Park. The OSC is quite frankly a disgrace. They are an embarrassment to themselves resorting to bullying tactics with no concern or thought for what the electorate want. Total sham!

25 November 2015

Caroline not back again surely to tout WBC people just not convinced in any way, people will demonstrate against their park being trashed again. There is no mitigation possible for 3m high concrete walls and fences ringing the park.

25 November 2015

Good to see the council making a positive decision about Formula E. Whilst there has been a lot of opposition to the race, I am glad to see the council has taken a long term view and is getting behind the future of motor sport in the UK - a move which will I am sure create many jobs as the UK is a world leader in motor sport engineering and this decision will help to cement that position as motor sport necessarily evolves in an environmentally-conscious world. Yes there were some problems with the first running of this race, as the council acknowledges, but as it has stated these will be addressed next year and I really hope this will convince people that hosting this race is a positive development for Wandsworth and for the UK.

25 November 2015