Worries over Hackney Weekend for Community Tree Nursery

With just over a week to go, volunteers at an award-winning community garden still fear being locked out for a whole month during the construction of the mega two-day pop festival on Hackney Marshes.

The Hackney Community Tree Nursery uses the Hackney Marshes car park off Homerton Road for access, but this will be out of bounds from June 9 until July 6 as preparations get underway for the Radio 1 Hackney Weekend festival.

A dazzling line-up of music acts including international superstars Rihanna and Jay Z will headline the event on June 23 and 24.

But volunteers at the nursery have still not been given clear guidelines how they will access the project during that time.

The Nursery grows trees and hedges which are planted all round the borough by community groups, has an edible forest garden and a beehive, and is used all year round for courses in growing and sustainability.

“The council has only given us very sketchy information but have been talking about all our volunteers having to wear named wristbands for a month,” said Tim Evans, from the steering group.

“We are worried about losing volunteers who we depend upon to keep the project going, and about potential new volunteers not being able to get in to talk to us.”

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A spokesman for Hackney Council said they had reassured the group access will be available for all but four days around the event.

“The nursery is located in the secure event production area and access needs to be managed, which is why wrist bands have been suggested,” he added.

Preparations to erect a huge perimeter fence for the concert mean access to the public pathway alongside the old River Lea from Homerton Road, which is used for recreational purposes and as a shortcut, will also be closed for a month.