Select Committee on London Local Authorities Bill Minutes of Evidence


Evidence Session (Sections 2200-2299)

DAY SIX

21 MARCH 2006

 2200. But they were filming in Lincoln's Inn on Sunday?

(Colonel Hills): Yes, there was filming between 8 and 12 on Sunday, that is correct.

 2201. CHAIRMAN: Is it possible, Mr Clarkson, for Colonel Hills to give us any idea of the frequency with which filming, or ancillary activities take place in Lincoln's Inn?

(Colonel Hills): My Lord Chairman, I can certainly do that. Within Lincoln's Inn we are limited to 12 days filming a year. The number of events where the film crew is in Lincoln's Inn Fields is probably in excess of 50 days a year.

 2202. Present, but not necessarily filming?

(Colonel Hills): They park there if they are going to film anywhere within a square mile I understand.

 2203. MR CLARKSON: There are not many period films, Agatha Christie films, that do not use New Inn Square, that is fair comment, is it not?

(Colonel Hills): You were obviously watching Miss Marple about three weeks ago. The new filming on Sunday was the new Life of Beatrix Potter.

 2204. Looking at it as I began, I shall end, you and the role of Mr Stanton. Camden's priorities are inevitably different, are they not, because they are not just confined to Lincoln's Inn Fields?

(Colonel Hills): They are inevitably different, yes.

 2205. And you appreciate, I have no doubt, the financial pressure on London Borough of Camden?

(Colonel Hills): Of course.

 2206. And you appreciate, perhaps agree, with Mr Stanton's expression that if there comes a competition for funds the parks are last in the queue, do you understand that?

(Colonel Hills): I understand what he is saying. The position in Lincoln's Inn Fields is rather different where there is a requirement within the 1894 Act to actually keep the park up to a reasonable standard. I am also aware that there are sums of money that Camden gets from us and I am also aware of the sums that Camden pay to us and have not paid.

 2207. Owed to you?

(Colonel Hills): Owed to us. As of 1901, and I have a copy if anyone wants to see it, a statutory order which says that Camden will pay back to Lincoln's Inn the cost of its cleansing, street lighting and other normal activities that the Council carry out which we carry out currently free and we do not get a return for our investment.

 2208. Lincoln's Inn has been generous for 105 years?

(Colonel Hills): No, it was paid, I believe, and the reason I cannot be more accurate is that it was paid up until the Second World War and we have not sought to have it paid thereafter.

 2209. BARONESS O'CATHAIN: My Lord Chairman, can I just ask, it is a different department, is it not?

(Colonel Hills): It is.

 2210. So it is not relevant in many ways.

 2211. MR CLARKSON: I do not want to increase the financial pressure. You have identified the 1894 Act, but that was exactly the same regime that, for whatever reason, the Tent City arrived under, was it not?

(Colonel Hills): It was, and it was for the very reason that Lincoln's Inn wanted to get rid of the Tent City along with other frontages that LIFA was formed, because Camden were not carrying out their duties at the time.

 2212. And Lincoln's Inn, I think, was a member of LIFA?

(Colonel Hills): It was and it raised a significant amount of money towards the fencing.

 2213. A major contributor, is that fair, to the 70,000?

(Colonel Hills): That is correct.

 2214. It is unfair, is it not, for Camden to expect Lincoln's Inn to continue to fund Lincoln's Inn Fields?

(Colonel Hills): Yes, there is a perfectly normal lease - it is not normal it is a very ancient lease - to Camden of the Fields.

 2215. Camden should have looked to you for funding?

(Colonel Hills): No, it should not.

 2216. That is all I have, Colonel, thank you.

 2217. CHAIRMAN: Do the Committee have any questions before I ask Mr Laurence if he wants to re-examine?

 2218. LORD FAULKER OF WORCESTER: I am grateful, My Lord Chairman. I would like to ask you a little bit more about LIFA, because you referred to it just then and in your earlier evidence. Earlier you said that the view in 1998 was because the problem with the homeless had been resolved that it looked as though LIFA had done its job?

(Colonel Hills): That is the opinion I formed, yes.

 2219. What I find puzzling, and I found this puzzling from all the evidence that we have received from the Petitioners, is that during all the time that you were getting the aggravation from the events in the Fields, nobody seemed to say, "Gosh, the one thing we must do is to re-form LIFA and represent a collective position to Camden Council so that we can talk about these comments"?

(Colonel Hills): I think, and this is my own view, I did not object in the first instance, the first time that it went out, for the simple reason that I thought it would go away and that would be the end of it. It then appeared again and again and the number of complaints I was getting were substantial. We also have a very delicate balance in our relationship with Camden, because we are for ever trying to refurbish listed buildings and we have a very co-operative, but distinctly frosty, relationship and twice we have had to go to appeal and twice we have won an appeal against their planning settlements. We therefore have to be particularly careful in our relationship because, for example, at the moment I have got three applications for change of use from residential to chambers and chambers to residential elsewhere in the Inn and we do not want necessarily to rock the boat, to upset the rest of our finances in the way that we run the Inn, therefore it became quite difficult. As far as LIFA itself went, John Brookes who was our member on the panel became ill and, in fact, because it folded up, did not bother to resign; he was 82 so he was getting on a bit.

 2220. You are giving a classic set of circumstances in which a collective organisation is able to do a job better than one body which has got an interest and possibly an embarrassment. If I had been in the Inn and I had problems over planning, but I had problems also with the square, I would say well who else can I bring in in order to help me represent this? I still do not understand why LIFA was allowed to die.

(Colonel Hills): I do not understand why it was allowed to die and why it folded up other than the fact that nobody was willing to take on the role of chairman or treasurer. I was asked if I would and I am already on 37 committees, I do not have time to go and do that as well. It needs to be somebody who is either a resident of the Inn or has chambers at the Inn who would be willing to take that on. Barristers unfortunately are very busy people. I could not go to any of the solicitors' firms in Lincoln's Inn because they are not members of the Inn, so we were very limited in who we could approach within the Inn to try and keep it going. As far as getting together is concerned, of course as soon as this Bill came out, John Soane's Museum and The Royal College of Surgeons and I got together, but we got together at the officer level, not our principal level, because we all knew that we had to do something about it, but when it comes down to dealing with Camden we are all ---- For example, the London School of Economics, with whom I was having discussions about whether they were going to become Petitioners or not, are worried about our planning permissions and they have got a huge development about to start and they are not petitioning and they have told me because they do not want to rock the boat.

 2221. They did not say to you, "Why do we not form an association to represent all our interests?

(Colonel Hills): No, they did not.

 2222. CHAIRMAN: I think we get the picture, Colonel Hills.

 2223. BARONESS O'CATHAIN: Can I just refer to paragraph 18 of Colonel Hill's evidence and it is the third last sentence on that paragraph 18 where you are talking about the fork lift trucks et cetera, "It was a hive of activity 24 hours a day".

(Colonel Hills): It was when there were back-to-back events, because they had to turn the place around very rapidly. What seemed to happen was when the party goers left they would then clear up and re-rig for the next day, they would then all go home and come back the next evening. They actually had caravans in Lincoln's Inn Fields as well for somebody to stay in, but it was the backing of the trucks, the clearing of the bottles, all of that sort of thing that made a noise.

 2224. I have only had a fairly cursory look at the new amendment proposed by the Promoters, but it does not say anything there about restricting the work with clearing away, it says the restriction on the break out, or whatever you call it, is the number of days, but it does not say the hours of the day that the work can be carried out.

(Colonel Hills): Correct. When an event ends it is customary in the catering trade, so I am told, and I know from my own experience with Lincoln's Inn, that the staff clear up as soon as they possibly can and that makes a noise, particularly if they are removing furniture or fittings which quite often happens, because when you have somebody who organises a very large event, they bring in riggers and all sorts of people to do the décor and the lighting and various other things in the way that they would like it to be. When they come to take that away, you have got trucks and other things moving around as well and they tend to do the de-rigging immediately afterwards, not always, but they certainly do in Lincoln's Inn because we need it the following day, but outside they were doing some of that as well. To say "a hive of activity" is probably over-egging the pudding a bit.

Re-examined by MR LAURENCE

 2225. Colonel Hills, with the benefit of hindsight, presumably you acknowledge that Lincoln's Inn could have used its voice, not only to prevent LIFA from disbanding, but in order to ensure that it would be an active participant in affairs concerning Lincoln's Inn Fields for the future?

(Colonel Hills): It could have, but that would have required a vote in council which is support from those who turn up to it for me to be able to go and try and resurrect it or do something else. Our director, John Brookes, had reported that it had completed its business and there was no need for it to continue, that is one thing. Whether we start it up again would be another and I would then have to get the instructions to be able to allow me to do that. I am not a chief executive in the terms that one would commonly have because I have a rather large board of 289 benches of whom 60 turn up for a meeting.

 2226. Colonel Hills, I do not know whether it might be suggested that it follows from the fact that Lincoln's Inn did not prevent LIFA from being disbanded that the powers which are now being sought should be granted, but in case it should be suggested that that does in some way follow, perhaps you would just tell the Committee what your view is in response to that proposition?

(Colonel Hills): I am sorry, could you just put that again, I slightly missed ----

 2227. I will put the proposition again with pleasure. Is it your view that Lincoln's Inn's failure to prevent LIFA from disbanding means that the powers which are now being sought to hold private events in order to raise money to maintain and improve the Fields should be granted by this Committee?

(Colonel Hills): No, it is not. LIFA's failure has nothing to do with the 1894 Act, nor does it have anything to do with the right to hold private events in a public park. LIFA was, in my view, or the Inn's view, created for a specific purpose which it achieved. We have not got a formal organisation at the moment to come to this Committee, although, as I said earlier, three of us did combine together to see what we could do to deal with it. These proceedings are not easy if you are trying to do it on your own.

 2228. Mr Stanton, I think, has indicated that for his part speaking for Camden, he would like to see a body similar to LIFA being created and operate successfully in the future. Would you share an aspiration of that sort?

(Colonel Hills): Yes, and I spoke to Mr Stanton yesterday afternoon after the hearing and saying that the three of us, that is the officers of the Inn, Soane's Museum and The Royal College of Surgeons might profit from meeting with him some time to see if we could set up some informal officer-to-officer contact, rather than being on a rather more formal structured association.

 2229. And if it leads to something more formal similar to LIFA being resurrected at some time in the future, would you welcome that?

(Colonel Hills): I am not sure that I would want it to be quite so high-brow as it was from its articles, I think we need something where there is a bit more give and take. I do not see that a son of LIFA, or whatever, will necessarily be able to do any more than we could do informally. Everybody's budget is tight, that is the way the world is at the moment, and I am not sure that raising money in any particular way, and I certainly know that I would not get any money to put into it, for the simple reason that all the spare money I have got goes into education or charities, so I will not get that money.

 2230. Colonel Hills, thank you very much. While Colonel Hills vacates his seat, I will ask Miss Staddon to call the next witness.

The witness withdrew

MR WILLIAN PALIN, Sworn

Examined by MISS STADDON

 2231. Mr Palin, do you have your proof of evidence in front of you, please?

(Mr Palin): I do.

 2232. And your name is William Michael Palin?

(Mr Palin): It is.

 2233. And you are Assistant Curator of Sir John Soane's Museum of 30 Lincoln's Inn Fields, is that correct?

(Mr Palin): I am.

 2234. And have you read through and refreshed your memory recently about the contents of your proof?

(Mr Palin): I have.

 2235. And is it correct?

(Mr Palin): It appears to be.

 2236. And are you content that, subject to anything else you might say this morning, that this stands as your evidence?

(Mr Palin): I am.

 2237. You say you have worked at Sir John Soane's Museum since April 2000?

(Mr Palin): That is correct.

 2238. And was that also in the position of Assistant Curator from the start?

(Mr Palin): Yes, it was.

 2239. And then you describe, looking at your paragraphs 2 and 3, the situation of the buildings that make up the museum; could you just summarise that for the Committee?

(Mr Palin): The founder of the museum, the architect Sir John Soane, bought three houses in Lincoln's Inn Fields over a period of about 30 years between 1790 and 1824. The central house, number 13, became his museum which was established by an Act of Parliament on his death in 1837 and has since been a public museum and a free museum to this day.

 2240. And so you have number 13 as the museum, number 12 and number 14 to flank it?

(Mr Palin): That is right.

 2241. And I believe your own office is on the second floor of number 14?

(Mr Palin): That is correct.

 2242. And in paragraph 4 you say what is housed in number 12?

(Mr Palin): Yes, that is right. Number 12 was re-acquired by the trustees of the Soane in about 1970 and it houses an exhibition gallery, research library and museum offices.

 2243. And then could you just tell the Committee briefly about number 14, please?

(Mr Palin): In 1996 the museum purchased number 14 Lincoln's Inn Fields, a third Soane house, and it presently awaits refurbishment. Work will begin on number 14 in May this year.

 2244. And in terms of who is present in the buildings, you have said your own office is at number 14 and later on in paragraph 8 you speak of a resident warden. Can you just explain that, please?

(Mr Palin): Yes. We have a resident warden, the house manager, who lives at number 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields. She lives on the third floor of that building.

 2245. And is that Judith Maher?

(Mr Palin): It is no longer Judith Maher, it is now Susan Bow.

 2246. And then from paragraph 5 onwards I think you explain the importance of Lincoln's Inn Fields as a setting and various other benefits to the museum?

(Mr Palin): Yes. The museum was built at Lincoln's Inn Fields by Sir John Soane because of the tranquillity and the openness of that site, particular the south facing nature of that particular site and the setting is very important to the museum.

 2247. Later in paragraph 9 you say it could be used by the Children's Education Unit of Lincoln's Inn Fields. Can you just say something briefly about that, please?

(Mr Palin): Yes. The Fields are a great asset to the museum obviously for all sorts of reasons, but they come into their own when we have education events, particularly with children who can use the open area for the kind of activities they cannot do in the museum, it has no open space within it, and of course they can also use the sheltered bandstand, or what was originally built as a rain shelter, as we all know, in inclement weather.

 2248. Are you able to say, Mr Palin, how often this takes place, the use by the school children of any aspects of Lincoln's Inn Fields?

(Mr Palin): As I say in paragraph 9 of my evidence, at the moment about 1500 school children pass through the museum each year. We are looking to expand that number quite considerably and in fact we are employing a new education officer this year and then number 14 Lincoln's Inn fields comes into use, that will have a dedicated Children's Education Unit, so those numbers will increase dramatically and of course we will look to use the fields more as time goes on.

 2249. CHAIRMAN: May I just ask on that point, in designing the space that you have designed presumably at number 14, are you incorporating any space that will allow children to wait inside and not to have to go and wait under the bandstand or whatever it is?

(Mr Palin): I did not want to give the impression that the reason why they are under the bandstand is because they are waiting, it is usually involving an event that they are doing actually in the Fields, so there will be plenty of space to wait in number 14 when that project is complete.

 2250. MISS STADDON: Are you aware what type of events they are carrying out in the Fields?

(Mr Palin): The kind of children's activities that are carried out in the Fields are varied. They can involve building structures, experimenting with designs, the kind of sort of large scale things that cannot be done inside a building and, of course, the children in good weather like to sit out in the fields and eat their picnics and generally they just seem to enjoy the open space and it gives them an important concept of how space relates to architecture of course.

 2251. Moving on to your paragraph 10, please. I believe you let out some of the rooms from the museum for receptions and functions, is that correct?

(Mr Palin): That is correct. We have two types of event. You can hire the library dining room, which is the red room which you saw during your site visit for a dinner, we can cater for up to 30 people for that kind of event. We can hold a reception which generally takes place again in that room and possibly on the first floor in the rooms above and we can accommodate up to 80 people for one of those events.

 2252. And then in paragraph 12, Mr Palin, you speak briefly about the history, or some of the history, of the running of Lincoln's Inn Fields, including its management of 21 trustees and you say that curators of the museum have continued a close association with the Fields since ----

(Mr Palin): 1794.

 2253. Since the original founder having become a trustee and so subsequent curators continued close association with the Fields. Then you move to speaking about LIFA and the museum's involvement with that body. Would you like to say something about the start of the museum's involvement with LIFA, please?

(Mr Palin): Obviously I arrived on the scene after our curator, Margaret Richardson, resigned from LIFA, she resigned in 1998 and I started in 2000, so I do not know a great deal about the previous history, but I do know from my conversations with Margaret Richardson that she was very seriously involved during that period with the problem with the homeless in Camden and she unfortunately had to retire upon becoming curator of the museum, at that point she was not the curator and because of pressure or work, she had to relinquish her place on the board of LIFA.

 2254. What happened to the museum's association with LIFA after her resignation and retirement in 1998?

(Mr Palin) To my knowledge we remained a member of LIFA and Margaret would keep in touch with goings-on relating to Lincoln's Inn Fields Association, but it became a much less involved role.

 2255. I think you see Margaret Richardson's involvement in LIFA in bundle ICM1/ICM2/ICM3 and it is in ICM2 that I asking you to look, Mr Palin, the LIFA material, page 25 please, "Minutes of the Meeting of the Committee of Management" of Lincoln's Inn Fields Association, held on Wednesday, 11 October. It does not have a year but there is a date stamp at the top of 1995, is there not?

(Mr Palin) Yes.

 2256. And on page 27 there is a reference to the date of the next meeting being 10 January 1996. In the list of those present on page 25 do we see there Margaret Richardson?

(Mr Palin) That is right.

 2257. And so that would be in 1995, within the period before she resigned; is that correct?

(Mr Palin) That is correct.

 2258. And we see at point 3 we have got, "Martin Stanton introduced himself as having been appointed by Camden to be in charge of open spaces."

(Mr Palin) That is right.

 2259. And then, for example, over the page at page 26, paragraph 3.2 "Long Term Aims, "when the first priority of making the Fields is secure is achieved, there remain several long term aims to improve the facilities. These include the restoration of the café, the provision of lighting which will enable the tennis courts to be used in the evenings and the refurbishment of the bandstand. In response to a suggestion from Richard Griffiths, Martin Stanton agreed to liaise with Daniel Shaw, the head of arts at Camden about a programme of lunch time concerts." Then over the page at page 27, "Mark Stafford Charles pointed out that LIFA would prefer not to be entertained by rock bands!". Is that correct?

(Mr Palin) Yes, that would appears to be what is in the minutes.

 2260. Could you please turn back to your proof, Mr Palin, and move along to the events, of which you speak in your paragraph 15? You say you first became aware of them in about 2001. Is that correct?

(Mr Palin) That is correct.

 2261. Could you briefly give a description of what happened in 2001 from your point of view?

(Mr Palin) Actually, I will correct myself. I had become aware that there had been small events in the Fields prior to that point, but they were very small marquees and I did not seem to notice or have a particular problem with them. But in 2001 I noticed these events were growing and there became a point when both the grassy areas in the Fields were occupied by large marquees excluding the public, and it was at that point that I became gravely concerned and I think it was after that that I wrote to Martin Stanton voicing my concerns.

 2262. We will have a look at that in a minute if we may but first of all your point about the exclusion of the public was your concern at that time, was it?

(Mr Palin) My first concern was that I felt dismayed by the exclusion of the public from a public space. Also, I felt a certain sense of embarrassment when visitors would come to the museum and ask what these events were and I had to say, "(a) They are private, (b) our own council has actually authorised them". I felt a mixture of embarrassment and dismay that the park was being used in this way.

 2263. Then in paragraph 15 you seem to turn to another aspect of the problem for you from the events.

(Mr Palin) Yes. We then found that because the Fields were being used in this way it became difficult for us to use them in the way that we had become used to, such as for, as I write in my evidence, visiting children to the museum "to picnic or wait in the bandstand in the centre of the garden or for our Children's Education programme to make use of the bandstand for workshops and events …". Also, and this was another point which I felt was quite important, it was no longer possible to cross the Fields through the central area and we are constantly trying to tie in the museum with the Royal College of Surgeons, with the area to the south of the Fields, and we felt that this was not at all helpful in trying to unify the square and the facilities in the neighbourhood.

 2264. CHAIRMAN: Miss Staddon, may I raise a point? Mr Palin, when you use the Fields in the way that you have described, how large are the groups of children per group?

(Mr Palin) The groups have to be limited to 25 per group when they are inside the museum, but if there is any overlap that is when the Fields becomes quite useful for us because at present we can only accommodate groups of up to 25.

 2265. And is your access to the Fields for use of that kind limited in any way?

(Mr Palin) No, it is not as far as I know.

 2266. When you have these groups of children do they occupy, for instance, the entirety of the bandstand when it is wet or do they have organised activities in Lincoln's Inn Fields which involve all or more than one group?

(Mr Palin) All the activities are organised. It depends entirely on the weather whether they use the grass areas or the hard standing and the bandstand in the centre for demonstrations or practical experiments that can be done under shelter.

 2267. MISS STADDON: And you refer, do you not, to exhibit WMP4, which is in the exhibits bundle at divider 5, page 180?

(Mr Palin) Yes.

 2268. You exhibit, do you not, a statement by your Children's Education Officer for the museum, Jane Monahan?

(Mr Palin) That is right.

 2269. Is she still the Children's Education Officer?

(Mr Palin) She is still the Children's Education Officer.

 2270. Can you speak of your knowledge of children's events or presence in the Fields as to how representative a picture that photograph is?

(Mr Palin) The photograph shows one type of event that we put on in the Fields. I am not quite sure what is going on here but we can see a sort of structure that has been erected and a child sitting on top of it, but that is quite a good illustration of the kind of event that it is very difficult to do indoors, using those kinds of props and that kind of scale.

 2271. Moving on in that same bundle, you mention some correspondence by way of complaint, do you not, in your paragraph 16, if you can keep both open at the same time please?

(Mr Palin) Yes.

 2272. If you look at your WMP5, which is the next page in the exhibits bundle, page 181, is that the letter of complaint to which you are referring?

(Mr Palin) It is indeed.

 2273. And that is dated 22 June 2001 from yourself to Martin Stanton?

(Mr Palin) That is right.

 2274. And it is correct, is it not, that you begin that letter on page 181 by saying, "For the last few years I have watched with concern …"?

(Mr Palin) Yes.

 2275. And then you say, "Last year …", so that is presumably 2000, because the letter was 2001, you saw a vast domed tent in the centre of the fields and a marquee on the large area of green open space on the north west corner. Then "This year", so 2001, "the same area of green space has been covered over with a marquee for nearly two weeks and today I was horrified to see another tent going up on the only other area of public green space …".

(Mr Palin) That is correct.

 2276. You mention a little bit further down "Summer Party", "security guards patrol entrance to the huge 'Summer Party'". Are you able to say what that was about?

(Mr Palin) Again, it is difficult because there are a number of events over a period of time, but I seem to remember that the summer party involved encroachment on to the grassy areas, I think, possibly the north east quadrant again, and the public being excluded from that area by private security guards.

 2277. Do you recall whose event it was?

(Mr Palin) This may possibly be the Orange event that has been referred to a number of times in these proceedings.

 2278. Then if you turn the page to page 182 and the second paragraph, you speak about the noise: "Working late at the office has been rendered an ordeal by the booming sound system in the marquees. Our resident warden is being driven to distraction by the disturbance which continues to 1am. 1am! It appears that if the money is right Camden will even grant impunity from its normal noise regulations."

(Mr Palin) I was quite angry when I wrote that letter.

 2279. You mention your resident warden then. Was that Judith Maher?

(Mr Palin) It was indeed, yes.

 2280. Can you just say something about the noise then, if you feel there is anything more you want to say more than you have written in that letter?

(Mr Palin) Simply that I was very sensitive to the problems being experienced by our house manager, whose role is very important, obviously, to the security of the museum, and she was really suffering during this time and she is not the sort of person who necessarily would make a formal complaint but she was obviously having a very difficult time because of these events, the noise caused by them, the disturbance caused by the erection and taking down of these large structures, and also by things such as fireworks and the other bits and pieces that go with servicing these events that were really, as I said, on an industrial scale.

 2281. This letter we are looking at, page 181 and 182, I think you say you copied that to Mr Ablewhite; is that correct?

(Mr Palin) A version of this letter was given to Mr Ablewhite.

 2282. And does that explain page 183?

(Mr Palin) It does indeed.

 2283. It is Mr Ablewhite writing as Chairman of the Lincoln's Inn Fields Association asking Mr Stanton to take this as a serious complaint.

(Mr Palin) That is right.

 2284. And it is complained that they arrived early, in effect. Over the page at 184 we have the response from Martin Stanton to yourself.

(Mr Palin) That is correct.

 2285. And he says that he is deeply unhappy with the situation of public displacement which caused the park to resemble a loading bay for two days. Then in his third paragraph, which commences, "In an ideal world", he finishes on the last line, does he not, with a reference to an agreement with LIFA for use of the site for a maximum of 12 weeks?

(Mr Palin) Yes, that is what he says.

 2286. Could you please have a look at ICM2, page 49, please? First of all, do you have any comment on the maximum of 12 weeks a year alleged agreement?

(Mr Palin) I have no comment. I was not aware that there was an agreement of any kind between LIFA and Camden.

 2287. Page 49 is a letter, is it not, from Margaret Richardson of your museum to Alan Ablewhite referring to Martin Stanton's letters to yourself in response referring to the mention of the 12 weeks' usage, and concluding, "If this is true, we all feel that this is far too long a period, particularly as Martin seems to have very little idea of the high noise levels after 6 pm." I was looking at the letter in reply from Mr Stanton which is in your exhibit in response to your letter of complaint, and Mr Stanton's response to your complaint about noise, if I can take you to page 184 of your exhibit behind divider 5 of your exhibits bundle, and I am sorry to move you around, at the foot of that page is to say that they have already very strict noise levels set out in the contract with the company concerned "which are monitored by a nominated monitoring company and they have confirmed that the events were within the tolerances that we set." Do you have any comment on that?

(Mr Palin) My only comment would be that that is not what our resident warden said; it is not what we have heard from many of the other witnesses over the last few days, and also, importantly, because Camden does not have a 24-hour noise prevention team, it was impossible to get a Camden noise officer to come at some of these times in the early hours to give their opinion of the noise.

 2288. Was there a change after you received this letter from Mr Stanton?

(Mr Palin) The answer to that question is that the events continued. They became larger and the noise disturbance continued.

 2289. Then you produce, do you not, your exhibit WMP6 in the same exhibits bundle at page 186, which is a statement from Judith Maher recording her time at the museum as having been from November 1988 until July 2004; is that correct?

(Mr Palin) That is correct.

 2290. And then setting out what you have summarised about her complaints about the events.

(Mr Palin) That is right.

 2291. Do you have anything to say about her comments in her paragraph two about security for the museum?

(Mr Palin) Judith Maher was responsible for security to the museum, so obviously she had concerns about large numbers of people and traffic gathering around the museum late at night and in the early hours of the morning.

 2292. And then two paragraphs below that she says, "I wrote and telephoned several times to Camden to complain of noise and the impact the events had …".

(Mr Palin) That is right.

 2293. Do you have Mr Stanton's proof and his exhibits all bound up together? Would you mind turning to tab 10? It is not paginated but may I ask you to refer to the penultimate letter? That is a letter, is it not, from Martin Stanton to Mrs Judith Maher thanking her for a letter concerning the issues of the events? "I apologise that no-one from the Council has contacted you to inform you of these events. We have made efforts to talk with The Royal College of Surgeons and LIFA. However we seem to have forgotten that you are in residence at the Soane's Museum. This is an oversight that will be corrected in future."

(Mr Palin) That is correct.

 2294. He goes on, "I was surprised that you have said the noise is causing a disturbance to the local residents as we have strict noise controls" and so on. In a further paragraph below that he says, "In future I will ensure that additional readings are taken in front of the museum …". What happened after that period in July 2002 as far as the museum is concerned with events in the Fields?

(Mr Palin) The situation continued much as before.

 2295. Did the museum take any part in any of these events in the Fields at any time?

(Mr Palin) At one point we were contacted to ask if we wanted to place any leaflets or information about the museum in one of these structures during the daytime. I believe that some leaflets and a travelling display stand were put up in this structure. My colleague who took the leaflets over said that when she went back the structure was closed to the public so she was not able to see if these things had actually been put on display.

 2296. Why did the museum take any part in these events to the extent that you have stated?

(Mr Palin) At that point we thought, "These things are here to stay. There is not a lot we can do about them. We might as well use this as an opportunity to get some good out of it and tell people about our museum".

 2297. Had you or anyone within the museum to your knowledge researched the legality of marquees and events within the Fields?

(Mr Palin) No-one had specifically researched the legality, although our archivist Susan Palmer had done a lot of work on the Fields but she had not specifically identified the clause in the Act which forbade the erection of structures in the Fields.

 2298. Were you personally aware of the coming to an end of LIFA?

(Mr Palin) I personally was not until after LIFA came to a close because Margaret Richardson voiced her frustration that LIFA had unfortunately wound up, and at that point we were deep in the situation that we are now talking about regarding these events.

 2299. Did you have any views on the matter at the time?

(Mr Palin) As a junior member of staff I really went with what my director, Margaret Richardson, was saying on the matter, which was that it is a pity; something obviously should be done about it but we have a huge burden and a huge workload. We were travelling a world exhibition at this point. I personally organise four exhibitions a year as well as the education programme, press, everything else, so we obviously felt that it was a shame LIFA had folded and we could certainly do with LIFA at this point, but it is a question of no-one having the time and resources to dedicate to putting an organisation like this together again.


 
previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2006