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The unspeakable pursuit of a game fair in our square

07 October, 2021

Illustration by John Sadler www.johnsadlerillustration.com 

• I SUSPECT I’m not alone in experiencing an impending sense of doom when Camden promises to hold a community consultation.

A meeting or online questionnaire is arranged, officials “listen” to the valid concerns of residents, sometimes offering a few trivial adjustments in response, and then cheerfully carry on with their original plan.

Consultation phase over, box ticked, leaving residents feeling ignored and marginalised.

Never more so than with the proposed “Festive Game Fair” which is planned for Bloomsbury Square in November, limiting access to local people over 10 days.

We don’t know when the decision was taken to proceed with this oversized event celebrating the spoils of blood sports, as Camden did not think to let us know.

But clearly our impassioned pleas not to allow National Game Fair Ltd, with its strong links to the shooting fraternity, to requisition this historic, tranquil square have simply been disregarded as of no significance.

To make matters worse we learned recently that the Friends of Bloomsbury Square and the commissioners have been rejecting the proposal since it was first mooted in 2017, not least because it arguably violates the terms of the lease with Camden as stipulated by the Bedford Estates to preserve the square as “…an open space and garden and for no other purpose or use whatsoever… The entrance to and enjoyment of the square garden by the public shall at all times be free of charge”.

The elitist nature of the fair is clear, with absurdly expensive restaurant tickets at £250 per head and 50 Swiss chalets and cabins selling high-priced merchandise.

We are at a total loss to understand how Camden is prepared both to flout the legal rights of residents and its commitment to council flagship policies on community inclusion and the environment. How a Labour council can even entertain this proposal is inexplicable.

Now with the threat of protest in the air by the anti-blood sport, anti-animal cruelty lobbies and environmental groups, the cost of policing this alone will surely cancel out any money that Camden receives from the hunting and shooting crowd.

Sadly Camden seems intent on pressing ahead with efforts to heavily commercialise our precious green spaces in Bloomsbury despite united public opposition.

HELEN McMURRAY
Secretary, South
Bloomsbury TRA

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