The good weather of the early May bank holiday week-end, the first warm spell of the year, drew large crowds to Richmond Park, especially on the bank holiday Monday, May 6. Mayhem and chaos resulted. The car parks were over-full, with many cars unable to get in or out (causing shouting matches between drivers), long queues formed along the roads and many cars parked on grassland and horse trails. In all, the Friends estimate there were 600-700 cars illegally parked.
There were also cars driving on closed roads and cars darting through a group of deer trying to cross the road (in one instance a deer got so disturbed it jumped over the bonnet of a passing car).
In addition, there was illegal cross-country cycling in large numbers, tree climbing (including on veteran oaks and willows), very large picnic parties of up to 50 people throughout the Park and barbecues on various grassed areas.
On the bank holiday Monday itself, the police had only one officer on duty in the morning and two in the afternoon, and they were not able to control the situation. In all, only 30 illegally parked cars received tickets.
Back under control
The late May bank holiday (Monday, May 27) saw somewhat fewer visitors and the Park was at 100% of capacity, rather than well over capacity. The Royal Parks management and the police had also responded well to the mayhem of early May and were able to keep the situation under control.
The police put out ‘no parking’ cones at all the places where cars had illegally parked in early May. They also had 10 officers on duty during the day, including 2 in plain clothes.
While some cars parked on the grass in car parks, few cars were illegally parked beyond that and most of those received tickets. The police also gave fixed penalty notices to off-track cyclists and 2 penalty notices to people for dog fouling. However, there were still many instances of people harassing deer.
The Friends produced a report on both bank holidays, based on observations by volunteers in its events monitoring group. You can read both the reports below. The chaos in early May also generated much traffic on the Friends’ Facebook page and direct e-mails, all expressing anger and dismay at what was happening.