People Are Kicking Off About Having To Reserve Space To Picnic In A Public Park

Harry Rosehill

People Are Kicking Off About Having To Reserve Space To Picnic In A Public Park
People who (presumably) didn’t have to reserve space for their picnic. Photo: Michael Goldrei

There’s been an almighty kerfuffle on Twitter over an upcoming event from OpenTable. The event is a picnic in Soho Square, on 25 May.

In their own words:

Reserve your picnic patch and kick off the Bank Holiday weekend in style, with your own VIP area complete with rustic picnic rugs and cushions. Enjoy this usually unbookable experience in one of London’s most popular public squares

People on Twitter weren’t best pleased with the idea of going through a business to reserve an experience that many do for free — sans-reservation — daily. There was some confusion initially over the event costing £25, but OpenTable has clarified that the event is free.

Fee/non-fee aside, public reaction has been almost unanimously negative, to what’s being viewed as an infringement on a public space, something that’s of growing concern to Londoners.

Take a look at some of the responses to OpenTable’s tweet beneath.

I’m planning to have dinner in my own home tonight.

Should I book first through your app or can I just go and do it?

— Adrian Short (@adrianshort) May 15, 2018

This is worrying & I fear only the start. Please explain why you have allowed this @CityWestminster. How will it be managed and what public access rights are being infringed? Which public spaces will need reservations next? @standardnews @BBCNews @TimeOutLondon @LBC

— Brian Jones (@BJDUK) May 15, 2018

It’s a public square. There’s enough privatisation of public spaces already, without you feeding off people’s misunderstanding.

— Adrian Clark (@adrianclark) May 16, 2018

I think I’ll bring my lunchbox and sit where I like! #anarchy

— Tube_bird (@tube_bird) May 16, 2018

We contacted Westminster Council and OpenTable, who both clarified that this event will only use some of the park, and that the rest of Soho Square is open to the public as usual.

However, both refrained from answering our question over whether OpenTable had paid to reserve this part of park.

Last Updated 16 May 2018

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