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Notting Hill Carnival

April 1, 2002

Notting Hill Carnival

I have watched with interest the proposal to change the route of the Notting Hill Carnival this summer and welcome its being shelved for this year at least. Ultimately this is a decision for the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone. However he remains keen that in future years the Notting Hill Carnival will no longer be confined to its traditional area of activity but will instead proceed down Talbot Road, Hereford Road into Westbourne Grove on its way to Hyde Park. In my view nothing could be more disastrous. Thankfully good sense has prevailed this year, not least because many longstanding Carnival supporters oppose a change to the usual route. However, Mr Livingstone and his cronies are not likely to give up without a fight although the Carnival organisers appear to be in financial disarray as well as in profound disagreement amongst themselves. As I expect many of you know the real issue here is one of over-crowding and it is fair to say that the police and organisers are aware of how to manage the huge crowds in its current route, but a fundamental change in the parade would potentially have catastrophic consequences.

I appreciate that for those residents living close to Hyde Park that there is an increasing concern that this beautiful public amenity is being all too frequently used in an inappropriate way for large-scale public events, which undermine the tranquillity which this vital green space offers to all Londoners. I believe that the Carnival has essentially become a commercial free-for-all in recent years and as a result has forgotten its roots as a celebration of central London’s ethnic diversity.

All too often politically correct politicians have been afraid of acknowledging this fact for fear of offending the minority vote. I am determined to ensure that in discussing the Carnival that the interests of that most silent minority, the local residents, remain foremost in politicians’ minds.