Notting Hill Carnival’s communications director dramatically resigned at the end of last week. NHC’s new event management organisation, Street Event Company (SEC), hired respected media professional Andrew Hillier at the beginning of June to help improve Carnival’s media profile. By 23 June a new website had been launched at www.nottinghillcarnivalguide.com to act as “the official, authorised online event management guide [which will] provide up-to-the minute news on Carnival for visitors to the event, participants in the bands and sound systems and for those living in and around the streets of Notting Hill”.
Twitter and Facebook accounts were also set up, chiefly to encourage people to visit SEC’s website and those of organiser London Notting Hill Carnival Enterprises Trust (LNHCET) and the Carnival arenas. At least one major mas band was interested in working directly with Hillier. However, when Soca News tried to contact Mr Hillier on Friday we were told he was no longer acting as communications director. Hillier himself did not wish to comment, but an authoritative source revealed that LNHCET had insisted on taking over the website and social media sites. He is said to have become “disillusioned” and “worn down” by the difficulties of working with LNHCET and felt that he would be unable to provide adequate press and PR support without a website or social media accounts.
sec is the trading name of London Street Events Ltd (LSE), set up on 12 April and registered at an accommodation address in Shoreditch. Its directors are David Morgan, a former Metropolitan Police officer, and Ortho Barnes. Morgan, Barnes and Kari Yanai were directors of a previous organisation called Street Event Company, which was set up in 2013 and dissolved in 2015.
So far as Soca News is aware, neither LSE nor SEC has any corporate track record in managing major festivals or other outdoor events.
The decision to give LSE/SEC responsibility for NHC follows recommendations made by the Public Realm Scrutiny Committee of the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea (RBKC) in March. The council envisaged a professional event manager would “counter the current negative narrative attached to Carnival” and “provide considerably more information on Carnival to residents and the community in future”.
However, RBKC did not respond to repeated requests by Soca News to say whether LSE/SEC had been chosen after a competitive tendering process.