The background is that over the last few years there has been increasing concern that the ground surface, especially in the events area to the east of Middle Meadow Walk, was not getting enough time to recuperate from intensive use especially during the summer period. The situation was compounded by large tents and equipment used for the set up for Taste and Moonwalk in early summer. A short life working group was formed in 2007 to look at the issues. Local bodies were represented on the group which many of us expected (and hoped) would come up with a few restrictions which would allow the event area to recover and safeguard the use of the Meadows by a wide range of groups and events. However, after making little progress a councillor of the ruling administration called for a report on the use of parks throughout the city. This had the (perhaps unintended but inevitable) effect of delaying the necessary decision on use of the Meadows.
It is waiting for this long overdue report which is delaying decisions for events organisers - and this week, the Meadows Marathon organisers seem to be in the most acute situation. It is understood Council staff (Events and Parks) have been in touch with the organisers of various events but the root of the problem is that no opportunity for clear cut decision has been brought forward.
The issue is no longer the need to preserve the condition of small parts of the Meadows; it is the need to preserve the reputation of the city which has handled the matter so indecisively and with such delay. Doubtless there will be much more information to emerge of negotiations behind the scenes. Specific proposals for a strategy to deal with the situation, both in the Meadows and for the use of parks throughout the city, have still to be brought before councillors. I am disappointed (but not really surprised given the early indications), in the length of time it has taken to get to this stage of indecision. For my part, I regret not having put more pressure on the administration to be decisive.