Mayor should help ‘struggling’ Notting Hill Carnival organisers, says London Assembly

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A report focusing on public safety at Notting Hill Carnival has recommended that organiser London Notting Hill Carnival Enterprises Trust (LNHCET) be put on a “more formal and sustainable footing”.

The report, Notting Hill Carnival: safer and better, by the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee (PCC), also identified overcrowding and rising knife crime as major issues of concern.

There needs to be a strong organising body for Carnival, the committee believes, but LNHCET is struggling. PCC members learned that this “iconic London institution”, attracting a million visitors from around the globe, is “run by volunteers, with little funding or staffing resource”. Lines of responsibility are confused, and “it is unclear where responsibility for the delivery of Carnival, or for its safety, sits”.

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The PCC continued, “To hear that Carnival is integral to the cultural tapestry of London, then to hear that those responsible for it are struggling with capacity and capability to deliver is troubling.”

One of the report’s main recommendations is that “The Mayor should now provide advice and guidance to the LNHCET to help put it on a more formal and financially sustainable footing”, such as by capitalising on the event’s commercial potential and the Carnival ‘brand’.

Proposals to change the route, move it to a park or make it a closed, ticketed event were not discussed in detail. However, the Mayor and LNHCET have been told to look at all options for change and report back to the Police and Crime Committee by May. They must make any decisions for change “on the basis of sound evidence and the buy-in of all the most important players” – but the PCC does not say whether those ‘important players’ include Carnival creators and participants.

In the meantime, crowd management consultancy Movement Strategies will try to find a solution to the chronic overcrowding that occurs in Notting Hill, especially after the 7pm static sound system switch-off. It will report to the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) in February.

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“We are surprised and disappointed that this kind of detailed work has not been undertaken before now,” the PCC said. However, in 2001, Intelligent Space did comprehensively assess crowd safety and the Notting Hill Carnival route design.

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