Notting Hill Carnival must become ‘safer and smaller’ – ‘and follow example of Pride London with £30 ticketed stand’
Notting Hill Carnival must become “safer and smaller” to prevent a repeat of crowd chaos that saw hundreds of arrests and revellers almost crushed this year.
A highly critical report from Kensington and Chelsea council said disorder on the Monday of the two-day event raised questions over the ability of organisers “to safely manage an event of this size.”
It suggested they should use the Pride London parade – which charges £30 for access to a grandstand with the best views – as a governance “benchmark” as preparations start for next year.
This year’s Carnival resulted in 326 arrests with 115 people taken to the hospital. Police warned that it came “exceptionally close” to a crushing disaster on the scale of the Hillsborough tragedy.
This was despite more than 700 people considered to pose a risk of committing knife crime or drug dealing being detained in the days before.
In her report to a meeting of the public realm scrutiny committee last night Donna Pentelow, the local authority’s head of culture, warned that “real improvements” must be made to ensure carnival remains family-friendly and true to its artistic roots.
Metropolitan Police Commander David Musker, the officer in charge of policing the annual street festival, told the meeting: “There were some concerns about people’s safety. During the Monday evening, many police officers had to be deployed to prevent crushing.
“There are no ticketing requirements so there should be the right level of measures in place to keep people safe.”
He added: “Public safety is the responsibility of the organizers, not the police”.
Ms Pentelow, said that the relationship with the organizing London Notting Hill Carnival Enterprises Trust “was challenging at times in 2017.”
Some key paperwork about the event plans and details of authorized drivers and vehicles needed for security reasons was only received the day before.
This had resulted in bands being late and floats being unable to enter the parade route.
Lewis Benn, a director of the Trust, blamed this on “a lack of communication” and added it “faced a number of challenges” this year saying safety was “paramount”.
The council’s recommendation of a “smaller” carnival in its report has sparked fears among supporters, wary of any potential measures to introduce ticketing.
Gus John, a member of the Reclaim Our Carnival group, told the Standard: “We do not think ticketing is necessary.
“We believe there needs to be a safety plan and better organization of the carnival including more members of the community being involved in managing the event. It should be free as it is a street event.”
Councillor Mary Weale, the council’s cabinet member for communities, told the Standard it “has no plans” to charge people to enter.
She said: “I do not think ticketing is the answer to helping improve the crowd numbers so I’m not putting my hopes on that happening. We need to look at other ways of making the carnival safer instead.”