Notting Hill Carnival – one of the biggest dates in London's calendar and the biggest street party in Europe – has had a major shot fired across its bow today, from a new report by City Hall.
The Police and Crime Committee of the London Assembly met last November to discuss Police concerns into safety at the annual, two-day event. In their findings, published today, they highlighted that arrest numbers are at their highest since 2010 and that a large proportion of police resources are used up by the event, which celebrated its fiftieth anniversary last year.
But the Committee were also keen to highlight shortcomings of Carnival's organisers – the London Notting Hill Carnival Enterprises Trust. It highlights that because it's run by volunteers, with little funding or staffing resource, that it 'suffers from a… capacity to deliver'. In the accompanying press release, the Committee also state that Carnival's organisers need 'help and guidance from the Mayor and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC)'.
Perhaps the most telling quote is from the chair of the committee Steve O'Connell AM, who stated: 'The previous Mayor got a grip on London’s New Year’s Eve fireworks, the current Mayor now needs to do the same with Notting Hill Carnival'.
Could this mean a move to a ticketed Carnival, even one that charges a fee for entry? Last year's NYE fireworks cost visitors £10, and sold out almost instantly, months in advance. If so, it would be a huge change for a London institution that has existed solely as an accessible, strictly non-commercial celebration of cultural diversity in London and beyond.
While the report states that 'there is acceptance from organisers that some change may be needed top bring Carnival back to its roots', it will be interesting to see how London's Carnival fans react to possible changes ahead.
In other news, the Piccadilly Circus billboards have been switched off.