By Florence Nosegbe, Labour council cabinet member for culture, sport and the Olympics
The Country Show is one of the most popular events in the Lambeth calendar and the biggest annual free festival in London. Thousands of people from across London travel to Brockwell Park every year to enjoy all the entertainment that is laid on from sheep shearing to live bands.
An event of this size needs adequate policing to keep everyone who attends it safe. While we have known about the Olympics for several years it is only in the last few months that the police, the Mayor and the Olympics organisers have been clear about what London can manage on top of the Games, as well as all the other cultural events that are taking place during July and August. As the South London Press reported last week, the police still don’t know how many of Lambeth’s officers will be needed to work at the Games, and in the run-up to the Olympics there is a heightened risk of terrorism across the capital. As a result we have been advised that holding an event on the scale of the Country Show just before the start of the London Olympics would be a significant security risk.
As a girl who was raised in Brixton I’ve enjoyed the Country Show for my whole life. I know how valued it is but the facts are that just days before the Olympics we can’t ensure that the event is safe because we can’t guarantee enough police officers will be available. Since we can’t run the Country Show in its usual format we are putting money into a special fund so that community groups across the borough can run local events of their own, perhaps with an Olympic theme. I hope that one of these events will be a scaled-down Country Show-style event in Brockwell Park. This is for one year only because of the unique circumstances caused by the Olympics. Next year the Country Show will be back bigger and better than ever.
Cllr Florence Nosegbe