Circus boss writes: ‘Get used to us’

IMG_1565The circus planned for next week on George Green has been cancelled because the ground is waterlogged, the City of London Corporation has decided.  But the owner of the circus has written to Wansteadium to say the story is not over.

Matthew Wingate writes:

I own Circus Fantasia, we contacted City of London Authority last year with regards to bringing our small family circus to one of their sites. Sadly Wanstead Flats was not suitable for us for a number of reasons, the main one being, it’s not the safest place in the evenings, so we attract many young families who in our opinion would not travel to us at the flats.

We also encourage people to walk or use public transport to get to us. This is why City of London suggested George Green.  Very close proximity to transport links and houses. The site is never used for anything other than dog walking and dog fouling.

We seat a maximum of 400 people in our big top.  At Wanstead Flats circuses seat over 1500 people, so please look at the size comparison.

We have visited London Borough of Redbridge for the past four years, visiting Valentine’s Park, Ilford, Ray Park, Woodford and Goodmayes Park. We have never had any issues with these parks, nor with the local authorities. In fact Redbridge recommended us to City of London as a ‘no hassle’ organisation.

We have contributed over £40,000 over the past four years to the local coffers. We pay a large sum of money to stand on a site for a week.

We also DO NOT have any animals in our circus. all we are talking are clowns, magicians, trapeze, acrobats, a strongman etc. No live music, no fairground rides.

There are no requirements for us to notify residents, or any licences to obtain. Circuses have been part of British culture for more than 240 years.

Have you ever stopped to think how open spaces are kept up or how they are developed? Events like ours mostly fund the day to day up keep of sites like this.

We do not damage sites, we leave them exactly as we found them, litter is collected daily-(if any) a skip is in place for the rubbish to go into. There is no alcohol on sale at our events. It’s a family event for all ages and ethnicities.

We are a pucker legit company in the UK, registered for all tax, corporation tax and VAT.

Travelling circus people live in houses, but have to travel with the big top to entertain communities, we can’t open a circus in a town centre shop for obvious reasons. We are all educated people, not a bunch of drug-smoking hippies.

I suggest the residents of Wanstead and George Green, educate themselves first on circuses before making accusations. To sum up – as a circus director, I probably earn more money than most people in Wanstead, I can certainly afford to employ my solicitor to fight any problems we have with local opposition.

All I can say is get used to us, we will set up on George Green, if not this time then next time.

Please think about when you were a child, however long ago that was.

52 thoughts on “Circus boss writes: ‘Get used to us’”

  1. Goodness what an aggressive statement to post ! especially to a local consumer market…..
    If I wanted to engage local people and possibly get them to come and support my business, I think I would have taken a slightly different tack to this. Whatever you earn Mr Circus Director, I would respectfully suggest you perhaps employ someone else to deal with your communications in the future…

  2. Okay, his tone maybe a bit petulant but can hardly blame him – I certianly understand where he is coming from.

    The level of mis-informed prejudice displayed by some Wanstead residents has frankly been very dissapointing and an example of the worst case of NIMBY activity I have seen. A quick Google search addressed most concerns regarding scale of circus, locations it has visited in comparison to George Green, that it was an all human circus etc.

    What about bringing people into the area who in turn could help local businesses generate some extra income? How about the Green credentials, being located next to a tube station for people to use rather than a car? He’s absolutely correct regarding authorities needing to generate income for the upkeep of the green spaces.

    I’m sorry, the small mindedness of some Wanstead residents has shone a rather bad light on a prevailing attitude in the area. Comments such as not wanting outsiders coming to the area to visit the circus were way out there in responses to the circus coming to town.

    Ultimately what were we talking about 5 days of performances, so maybe 7-8 days total for set up and take down.

    Last of all – where’s the fun Wanstead? Where’s the imagination?

    Time to burst some ill conceived bubble and pretension that has become synomnous with Wanstead area residents who seem to be after some sanitised version of a “village”.

    1. I personally think he made some very good points about his circus, and he probably said many things that lots of people did not know about it, and would have been happy to hear, but his tone and language was very aggressive (and I drink in pubs and go to sports fields and am not some sheltered idiot!) but I for one, would not support someone with such an aggressive attitude. He could have said some lovely positive things, but he didn’t. A lost opportunity.

  3. Mr circus director we’re all absolutely loaded in Wanstead didn’t you know!? I am sure my house is worth way more than yours and my LED smart TV screen is HUGE! I won’t even begin to tell you how much I spend on sausages either, in fact once the Ginger Pig opens my sausage expenditure is going to go through the roof. It won’t matter though as I’m loaded innit…

  4. I don’t know what this letter is in reply to, but it is certainly very unfriendly in it’s tone. If this gentleman, the Owner, wishes to attract people to the idea of holding such an event, for the first time in Wanstead’s history, I would have thought his approach to his prospective customers would be less aggressive and defensive and down right rude… not the way to ingratiate himself to residents at all!
    I’m not an ‘old’ person btw, nor do I judge people on their income or by their profession. I think if you are breaking new ground it should be done with consideration for all and discussion amongst those who have concerns… not with such phrases as “get used to us”.
    Rather sad to read this.

  5. I agree, the tone is probably not the best and likely written in the heat of the moment but he’s reacted to unfounded prejudice that has cost him, and the acts he employs, lost revenue. From his perspective he has done everything that was asked of him in renting space from the agent/manager of the land, this has likely incurred some expense on his part, yet he has had the carpet pulled from beneath him based on what?

    If it had been a fun fair or was a scheduled for weeks-on-end I would have some empathy with the complainers but it was for such a short duration. I can also understand the concept of it setting a precedent but surely it would have been best to have reserved judgement rather than to object immediately? I would concede that the The City Of London Corporation could have been more forthcoming in the plans but again, that’s not the circuses fault yet they have to pay for this oversight.

    Oh well, I think it’s Wanstead’s loss. Likely restaurants would have benefitted from people visting the area and these things can be a positive aspect to an area but petty, misinformed small mindedness seem to be the order of the day judging by this and other recent events;-)

    Shame really, I remember as a child the excitement of such events coming to a local green.

    1. It’s the amount of rain that’s been the deciding factor isn’t it? Or am I being naive and complaints from residents have caused permission to be withdrawn?

  6. Mr. Circus has put up a very coherent argument but I am afraid he lost it by mentioning how much money he earns. Does he really think people care about his personal finances?

    1. Scobie1 – yep, I’d agree with that, unfortunately seemed to let his annoyance/frustration get the better of him from that point because, as you say, his argument was pretty coherent up until then.

  7. I was looking forward to the circus. When my son was still at primary school the PTA brought a circus onto the school playing field at it was honestly one of the best evenings out ever. Surely this what an open space is for (not just dog walking, dope smoking and al fresco sex)?
    As for Mr Wingate’s unfortunate tone I thought the world loved people who ‘shoot from the hip’ and ‘tell it like it is’? Not when they slag Wanstead, heh? And for those who won’t go when the circus comes back because you’ve been offended by his manner here’s an anecdote about the late Steve Jobs. Some magazine was doing an expose about him and confronted him about some less than stellar behaviour; he told them: “Everybody knows I’m a b”astard, that’s not news.” And despite him being a b”astard, millions bought his products.

  8. To the people of Wanstead and the Wansteadium page- I am glad that most people seem to understand the points i have raised and the replies to alleged allegations. I indeed do have to defend my business and i have done so.

    I never meant to boast about my income or businesses income, i simply meant that we have the money to fight this matter in a court of law.

    We have lost over £15,000 already from this venue being cancelled. Let alone profit.

    City of London have blamed the weather as the reason they cancelled the visit, they have no other way out of the legally binding contract that was signed by them and us over 12 months ago.

    We indeed are at the moment seeking legal advice on how best to proceed for compensation and we are also seeking legal advice on re booking the site at George green for another time, We do not give up easily on any of our sites, as the majority of people wanted the circus to visit. It was by no way a threat it was a simple promise we will be back in town at some point in the future.

    1. No, I was not aware of this and I live about 2 minutes from the club. I would have wholeheartedly supported this, all local clubs and businesses need support and cash.

  9. I haven’t seen the complaints about the circus coming to Wanstead and half way through Mr Wingate’s letter I had decided to take my small children to the circus. However, I disagree that George Green is only used for dog walking and dog fouling; I occasionally walk across it to get to Belgique, for example (without a dog).

    Unfortunately the aggressive tone at the end of the letter has cost him my business, although I’m sure he won’t miss it as it seems he has loadsamoney. It would have taken me, as a pauper Wanstead resident, many months to save up for the event anyway.

    Good luck Mr Wingate, I hope your circus continues to be successful and you manage to win people round.

  10. If you asked the “nimbys” living next to the proposed circus performances if they generally supported the idea of travelling, animal-friendly circuses who cared for the site they use, and the surroundings, I’m sure they would all more or less say yes, we don’t mind the idea. If you then asked them would they mind some afternoon and early evening performances near where they live, I’m sure some would be less supportive. Given enough assurances and prior warning though, quite a number would probably think “why not”. That’s human nature and it’s nothing to do with where you live or where you spring from. If somebody just bangs up a ton of gaudy fluorescent-coloured signs outside your home, let alone signs that don’t mention such gilded promises of best practice and good neighbourliness, then the general mood is likely to be that despite the provisions in planning law for this ancient tradition, then the circus can jog on.

    Then we come to the curious logic whereby Forest Gate would not be fit for a circus of Mr Whatshischops calibre, but the people of Wanstead are to be deplored for their disdain of his travelling Eighth Wonder. Okeydokes.

    As for the outburst of pique mentioning how much Mr Have You Seen How Big My Top Is wants to say he earns – perhaps that kind of approach comes from having been fired out of a cannon too many times into a hilariously choreographed vat of clown custard. Save your boasts for HMRC and bear in mind that some of the expensive lawyers you are so proud of employing keep home in the Wanstead area. Best of luck finding venues in the future – probably best not to try Forest Gate going forward as they don’t like snobs in that parish.

    1. @ Nick – Best post on Wansteadium. Hurrah hurrah! Brilliantly articulated and bang on the money. Lots of it, apparently.

  11. It seems like this situation has been created because of poor communication.

    Perhaps it might have been better if the Corporation of London and the Circus Fantasia had written to those residents likely to be affected? The letter could have explained that a licence had been granted and given more information about the event. I am sure this would have allayed fears about any potential disruption caused.

    I am sorry if Mr Wingate has suffered a financial loss but surely the unpredictable British weather was taken into consideration when planning the event? I am also sorry if he has received upsetting messages online as that doesn’t reflect well on anyone.

    Perhaps next time a licence is granted we can all work together to create a safe and enjoyable event for the local community?

    1. Regarding poor communication the onus really should be on the Corporation of London as they are the “owners” of the land who have granted permission for the circus to use the it.

      It’s laughable that Wanstead residents are so keen to promote the idea of a Wanstead Village, however fanciful that may be (it’s an East London Burb), but “Village Greens” have always been used for a multitude of events and visiting shows. I reckon we’ll see more of these type of things visiting Wanstead in the coming years as the Corporation of London seek new ways to generate revenue to maintain these green open spaces.

  12. What a shame I was planning to take the clan.

    Perhaps some better socialisation of this, in the context of a space not typically used for events might have been a good thing.

    Did the Council grant an event license for this, because Corp land or not , it is in LBR.

    Can’t remember such a fuss over last year’s live sex show though 😉 or nearby drug alley, or adjacent roads being used as staging posts for Wanstead’s shootings.

    It’s all going on in the back yard anyhow.

  13. That letter is ridiculously hostile, and shows a total lack of understanding of how to get an area to accept something new. A few people might have complained about the Circus coming, but no one else got chance to comment before it was cancelled. There are a lot of people in the area, and some more vocal ones have clearly complained. Regardless of all that, even if it does happen, we won’t be going. I asked the kids if they wanted to, they just shrugged and said “Circuses are crap” – I tend to agree. As for giving money to a proprietor who aggressively attacks an area before even one performance?

    “To sum up, I probably earn more money that most people in Wanstead” -er, what? You idiot.

    1. At the end of the day, people commenting on here will never understand the problems until it effects their livelihood. I have not aggressively attacked an area, i have defended my business.

      I wish the Wansteadium all the best and hope the village enjoy their open space. I just hope funds can be gained from other sources to keep it to the standard it is for all to enjoy.

      May all your days be Circus Days

  14. Regrettable that this entire episode could have been avoided had the Corporation of London/LBR taken the trouble and courtesy to inform (or even consult!) residents . Mr. Wingate’s circus appears to be innovative and very enjoyable. However, he should appreciate that people will be concerned when the first notice they receive is by means of a trailer parked on the green advertising the circus.

  15. Wow. Nice tone Wingate, now insisting he’ll be on George Green whether anyone likes it or not. Way to get people on your side.

    And by the way, it’s COMPLETELY disingenuous to claim that Wanstead Flats is unsuitable because families fear to go there at night!

    Do you not know there are numerous events held there which families attend — at night — in droves? The fairs at all the holiday times, and the annual fireworks display.

    The place is teeming with families and little kids having a great SAFE time on Wanstead Flats in the dead of a dark winter evening. And you say you can’t hold your circus in that same spot on a light summer early evening?

    A suspect, lame excuse. All events of this nature use that spot on Wanstead Flats, I find it mysterious that you won’t and are now even more stubborn that it has to be George Green or bust.

    Why?

    And by the way, not being a local you are dead wrong about George Green only being used for “dog walking and dog fouling”. That green is a busy shortcut for people on their way to work via the tube station, people on their way to the shops and buses, people coming home from work, school children gathering on their way home, sitting down on the grass on a nice day, and when it’s hot and sunny, it fills up with locals laying out to catch some sun. It’s a beloved and well-used spot by all and sundry, of all ages.

    It’s a good idea not to insult locals and the place they live if you want to do business there. Until your petulance I was ready to buy a ticket should you be relocated to Wanstead Flats which I’m perfectly “safe” attending……Not now.

  16. What really strikes me about this issue – and many other issues about Epping Forest (including Wanstead Park and Wanstead Flats) – is why is the local authority for a very small area of London, the City of London, and which is both located 7 miles away from here and which is also undemocratic (it still has business votes) running these places – as they also do Hampstead Heath and other places.

    It is high time that LB Redbridge etc took over these local places and then we could rasie issues with local councillors.

    1. the following is one of the meanings of the word Circus” a lot of activity and interest caused by an event or situation” even when it doesn’t happen- If Boris is looking for a job he could have been ringmaster with Gove as one of the clowns-now that would have been worth watching.
      Just wondered if the local Wanstead Nimby group i.e. The Wanstead Society got involved-just seem to be conspicuos by their absence

  17. Ha well that told us then. I’d guess the timing was not great after travellers decided to set up there a few weeks ago. People will assume one and the same. Eloquently put, no idea why he had his pucker moment though! I’ll get on with getting used to it then….

  18. The circus owner definitely needs some coaching in communication. That being said, I’m disappointed that the circus is not coming. My kids would have loved it. It was only for 5 days. I don’t know why everyone feels so precious about George Green, the amount of cigarette butts strewn everywhere make it quite disgusting to sit down. Very disappointed to hear about the cancelled event at Eton Manor Rugby Club, I live very close to the club and am always delighted to see it host any events that give it a cash injection. Wanstead residents, you cannot expect local businesses, clubs etc. to thrive without footfall and things like visiting circuses, music festivals, etc all bring footfall.

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