Sean Bryson
Labroke Grove is the heart of the spectacular Notting Hill Carnival, held each August Bank Holiday since 1966. This holiday always falls on the last weekend of August with Sunday and Monday being the major carnival days
Racism in Notting Hill - Violence - Corruption - Crime - Political Correctness
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Carnival Round Up - 2001

Distilled from this original article

Carnival News 2001
Labroke Grove is the heart of the spectacular Notting Hill Carnival, held each August Bank Holiday since 1966. This holiday always falls on the last weekend of August with Sunday and Monday being the major carnival days. The festivities started as a local affair set up by the West Indian immigrants of the area and has become a full-blooded Caribbean carnival, attracting millions of people from all around the world. There are scores of massive 'sound systems', many spectacular floats and steel drum bands additionally, to keep you well fed, there are hundreds of stalls lining the streets of the area selling all sorts of food and drink including Caribbean specialities.

Around and around we go… 09/11/01
The continuing Carnival debate rages on this week with allegations being thrown left, right and centre. As we might have all come to expect, the opposition stands as follows: The Carnival Trust on the left, Mr Ken Livingstone starting to wobble off the fence and various borough councils on the right. The last few months have seen the re-routeing of Notting Hill Carnival hotly debated in the press, in the GLA and within the confines of council boardrooms. Everyone proclaims the importance of Notting Hill Carnival as an event for racial integration, the celebration of culture and as an event unique to Europe. Yet the thought of bearing any responsibility for the August bank holiday event is obviously a thought worse than death. The evidence stands as follows: Westminster Borough Council attempts to shrug off any responsibility this week with allegations that Mr Livingstone has been fiddling a vote with regard to a re-route into their said borough. The Royal Parks Agency continue to proclaim that they are 'booked up' for at least (hmmmmmmmm…) a century to come - therefore managing to avoid having this monstrosity of an event ruining their beloved 'public' space. So we have still come to no conclusions yet we have spent months, years even, criticising the layout of the existing Carnival, the inability for crowd control, we have seen people murdered for goodness sake - these are the points that are repeatedly highlighted by organisations such as borough councils yet nothing is resolved and the bickering continues…

Carnival Catastrophes in Kensington? 03/10/01
The residents of Kensington have always been some of Notting Hill Carnivals biggest opponents, creating their own committees, fighting with the carnival trust and generally griping about the event, whilst a majority of those who 'actually live' within the route 'actually enjoy' the two day party, which has become world renowned. However, this may all change next year when Kensington residents really will be given something to complain about. Ken Livingston has threatened the socially 'correct' residents of Kensington with their worst living scenario - re-routing carnival through their streets. Throughout the Labour party conference many issues have been raised, and amongst them is the issue of carnival, it's importance to the cultural history and diversity of the area but also the problems experienced in 2000 and the on going bickering between the GLA, residents and the Borough Council. In the wake of carnival 2000, Ken Livingstone (newly appointed London mayor) created a panel of individuals to study the issues at large and attempt to appease all parties and create an environment, which could harbour and nurture what is undoubtedly a unique event. For the past year the GLA's Notting Hill Carnival Review Group has been holding meetings, discussing issues such as overcrowding and crime, listening to locals explain the essence of carnival and quarrelling with (Kensington) residents groups. Lee Jasper, Mr Livingstone's adviser on race relations, has been requested to investigate plans for a new carnival route to alleviate the pressure on North Kensington, taking the sound systems, floats and millions of spectators through other parts of the borough, such as Kensington and Holland Park. Many of the delegates attending the fringe meeting at Brighton's Queens Hotel, appear to have approved Mr Livingstone's suggestion, a suggestion will undoubtedly turn the stomachs of the 'residents associations' and those in the Tory-run Kensington and Chelsea council who may suddenly realise that someone might be taking a p*ss on their doorstep next August bank holiday. However, this is not the first time Mr Livingstone and RBKC have come to blows with regard to the Notting Hill Carnival, he has previously accused the council of wanting to protect "Notting Hill toffs". Discussions with regard to the reformulation of carnival continue (as they have done for the past few years) and a decision is not expected to be confirmed until next year.

Council threat to refuse carnival grant. Carnival Trust "never asked for the money" - 11/09/01
On Monday the Evening Standard ran a curious news-in-brief story that said Kensington and Chelsea Council have threatened to withdraw a £30,000 "grant" to the Carnival Trust. The Council have refused to pay up the £30,000 unless proof can be provided that all 600 stewards were present. However Varnival Trust's Chief Executive, Claire Holder says the trust "never asked for the money"...

Ken Pushes For Carnival in Hyde Park - 05/09/01
Mayor Ken Livingstone is on course for a showdown over next year's Notting Hill Carnival route which he wants to end in Hyde Park. Mr Livingstone has stressed that any "bloody-minded" objectors face having a new route imposed upon them. His comments are thought to be a coded warning to the Royal Parks Agency, which vetoed his attempt to get this year's carnival through Hyde Park, partly on the grounds that the proposal was late. While the parks agency has said it is "happy to explore" the possibility of the carnival ending there in future, privately there is thought to be some unease at becoming involved.Mr Livingstone said: "If we cannot get any agreement among the various stakeholders in this then the Commissioner of police has the power to impose the route. This he is determined to do. That will concentrate the minds of more bloody-minded partners in this." His comments will do little to defuse tensions between carnival organisers and residents and Kensington and Chelsea council, where there is a feeling the carnival is too big. He has already accused the council of wanting to protect Notting Hill's "toffs". The Royal Parks Agency is refusing to comment until the consultation exercise is completed.

Carnival Trust "refused to co-operate" says council spokesman - 30/08/01
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea have praised the Carnival police operation as "effective, professional policing at its best, setting the very highest standards". However their praise of the police also implicitly criticises the Carnival Trust. A council statement released two days ago says: "Right up to the event itself this year the Royal Borough expressed grave concerns with regard to public safety, stewarding arrangements, management of the parade route and organisation of Carnival. Thanks largely to the work of the Police and the Council, Carnival 2001 was indeed safer". There is not a single mention of Claire Holder's Carnival Trust. I spoke to council spokesman, Andrew Hillier today and asked him what he thought of the Trust's organsation. He said: "We are not criticising, we are just stating a fact. The Carnival Trust refused to co-operate with the police". The council has praised the police for breaking up Carnival at 11.00pm, when they closed the route to parade vehicles. This was three hours after the scheduled end of judging organised by the Trust. Councillor Merrick Cockell (Con) has added: "Despite our best efforts and less crowding Carnival again started and finished late, indeed if it hadn't been for the decisive action of the Police, Carnival would have continued 'til past midnight. Problems with stewarding, route management and parade vehicle licensing handled by the organisers need now to be properly resolved".

Police officer in charge wouldn't want his kids to go to Carnival - 24/08/01
The senior Metropolitan police officer in charge of Carnival said today that he would not want his own children to attend because of his fears over crowd control problems. District Assistant Commissioner Andy Trotter, has expressed his concern about crushes in the crowd leading to disaster on the packed streets. Earlier this morning on Radio 4's Today programme he stressed that the additional police and stewarding presence at this year's carnival should help the event pass off without incident. But when he was asked if he would want his own children to attend, he said that he would not want them to, because of the risk of crowd crushing. DAC Trotter, who has three children in their twenties and another aged 15 added "It is enormously expensive to police and there is a real fear of crushing along the narrow streets. But with the additional resources and with the public using their common sense, things should be okay". His comments contradict earlier advice given by Mayor Ken Livingstone, who has said it's perfectly safe to take kids on Sunday, which is designed as kid's day. This year's policing presence is costing around £4 million, which has gone towards a number of schemes, including 1, 500 more police officers than last year. Officers have also made a series of pre-emptive arrests of known troublemakers from last year and installed 80 hi-tech CCTV cameras along the route. With the largest bill for policing an event in London's history it is surprising DAC Trotter still thinks the Carnival unsafe for children - even twenty year old ones!

Aural precautions at Carnival - 23/08/01
There are all sorts of obvious precautions to take before setting out to Carnival, but earplugs aren't ones that immediately spring to mind. However the Royal National Institute for the Deaf are urging revellers to take extra care by handing out disposable earplugs at Carnival. The earplugs are being handed out over the weekend to avoid sound systems damaging partygoer's hearing. "It is the first time we have done this at a major music festival, but we want to make sure people are aware of the risks," said a spokeswoman. "Concerts run at 95-120 decibels, although anything above 85 decibels can cause deafness and tinnitus if prolonged." So I guess earplugs sound pretty err... sound. Good news for Carnival revellers, with forecasters predicted yesterday that the August bank holiday could be the hottest for a decade. Temperatures for Carnival are expected to rise to at least 28C, with temperatures up to 30C in other parts of Britain. "It's going to be sultry and humid. There may be one or two random thunderstorms but nothing to spoil things," forecaster Michael Dukes said. "For the last 10 days of August it's really unusual for temperatures to hit the high 20s but this year it looks like we're in for a really scorching bank holiday. The highest temperatures will be around the south east but Edinburgh, Glasgow and Belfast should still be right up there in the mid-20s." So whether you're a culture vulture at Edinburgh or partying at Carnival, the weekend should be a scorcher. The last Carnival to be blessed with such high temperatures and sunshine was in 1991. The highest temperatures before that came in the record-breaking summer of 1976. So get out the sunhats, sun cream and maybe just a touch of deodorant and keep your fingers crossed that for once the forecasters are right.

Clamp down on dodgy food stalls at Carnival - 21/08/01
In an attempt to clamp down on illegal food stalls in London, over 150 Hot Dog stands and an ice cream van were crushed in anticipation of Carnival this weekend. The mass destruction was organised by Westminster council to warn illegal vendors to stay out of central London during Carnival. Each item was torn up by the powerful three-foot pincers of a scrap yard crane and then passed through a crushing device, which reduced it to a series of inch-wide strips. The melted down metal will be passed to a scrap metal dealer. Council chiefs are warning against buying from such illegal vendors, not only because they offer poor quality food and often pose health hazards, but because such ice cream and burger vans (as innocent as they may seem) can be run by gangs involved in other criminal activities. The crushed ice cream van was confiscated at Carnival two years ago and its owner was taken to court and fined. Another, still on the council's van "death row" list is thought to have been selling more than 99s and strawberry splits. It is believed the van was used as a front for drug dealing activities at last year's Carnival. "The hot dog trolleys were all confiscated in the past 12 months as part of our crackdown on unlicensed trading," said a Westminster council spokesman. "Forty of them were confiscated at last year's carnival and in the run-up to this year's event we are warning that anybody who plans to do any unlicensed trading will find their trolleys suffering the same fate. "There is a real public health concern about these outfits, they usually have no proper cleaning facilities and no covers on them, so they're open to anything a passing pigeon might care to contribute. We also believe there is an organised crime involvement in many of these enterprises." The action is part of the "Preparations for a Safer Notting Hill Carnival" which is a joint effort between three London councils, the Police and the Carnival Organisers. Over the past year the council claims to have had considerable success in clearing the West End of illicit traders, who it says give a poor impression of London to visitors and rob legitimate traders of sales.

KEN V THE TOFFS - 16/08/01
Another London battle has begun for Ken Livingstone, after comments that Kensington and Chelsea's Council have opposed a change of route for Carnival to avoid the "posh bits". He claims that the Council's views on a linear route have compromised crowd safety. Fears of overcrowding have hit the headlines in the past few weeks and these comments add an extra spark to the all ready fiery discussions. Conservative Council leader Merrick Cockell has branded the commends "frankly ludicrous" and says "Mr Livingstone knows perfectly well that the council has been at the forefront of calls for a new improved route for carnival, and indeed it is a matter of public record. Even now the council officers are working on a better carnival route for 2002". Since June Livingstone has demanded the route be changed to an alternative linear route ending in Hyde Park. It was in an interview with radio station Heart London 106.2 that the controversial comments were made: "I regret having to say [that families should come early] but we've had complete opposition from Kensington and Chelsea about getting a change of route because they don't want it going through the area where the toffs live!" "It will be the safest Carnival for a decade, but it won't be as safe as it could have been if we'd got agreement for a straight route rather than this circular one. But I have to say the main people obstructing that have been Kensington and Chelsea, who I think really don't think something like Carnival should go through all their posh bits." The row came the same day Carnival organisers met with the home office to discuss safety concerns

Carnival trouble-makers arrested - 15/08/01
Police have already arrested a number of people they claim are planning trouble at this year's Carnival. In anticipation for Notting Hill's annual bank holiday party Home Office have been closely involved with discussions of security for the two million people expected. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Andy Trotter, the police officer in charge of Carnival this week, would not declare how many arrests were made and what they were concerned with. He added: 'We'll be watching through out Carnival for any one who wants to spoil it for others'. Last night MyVillage attended the official launch of Carnival at St. Charles Catholic Sixth Form College. Here 'Carnival Code' was discussed, which is a set of rules and tips for enjoying Carnival. This includes coming and leaving early. Organisers say that if 'Carnival Code' is followed carefully Carnival should be safe and trouble free.

Long term backing given to Carnival Arts - 15/08/01
London Arts have given long term backing to Carnival's best creative talent in a huge package that includes many of last year's competition winners. They will be providing new long-term support for many of Carnival's best bands and organisations. 19 groups appearing at the 2001 Gala and Carnival have received new three year funding agreements, improving their financial stability and allowing the groups to focus on long term development of artistic work. This year London Arts is contributing a total of £416, 785 to support Carnival Arts. Denise L. Mellion, Carnival Officer at London Arts said: "Notting Hill Carnival is a unique celebration of community and cultural diversity and one of the most compelling outdoor events in the world. The additional support will enable mas bands to encourage greater participation in future, ensuring they go from strength to strength". Definitely money well spent.

On second thoughts - Fears of Carnival safety still not resolved 13/08/01
Kensington and Chelsea Council is to hold emergency talks with the Home Office after declaring that it is still "completely unsatisfied" with safety arrangements for the Notting Hill Carnival. Council leader Merrick Cockell meets minister Bob Ainsworth on Tuesday, and is expected to say that he may now break ranks with police, organisers and Mayor Ken Livingstone by urging people to stay away. Until last week, the Met and Greater London Authority were understood to be poised to issue a similar plea but dropped the plan after being told that 600 stewards are being recruited.

Overcrowding fears resolved - 07/08/01
Plans to urge people to stay away from Carnival this year have been dropped after organisers have managed to address police fears about crowd safety. Mynottinghill have had good response from the public regarding these fears, with requests for information about stewarding and e-mails of concern regarding over-crowding. Met Commissioner Sir John Stevens has been reassured by Notting Hill Carnival Trust that the 600 stewards required have been found, after over 1,000 people applied. Security checks have been done and stewards begin a weeklong training programme on 15 August. Ten days ago he had been warning that he might have to tell people to stay away in an attempt to reduce the anticipated crowds, which last year was estimated at 2 million. His concerns had been heightened by fears that armed drug gangs could use the street party to settle scores, and that National Front activists might be planning to disrupt it. (click here to read more about this). Yesterday's meeting with Mayor Ken Livingstone and Metropolitan Police Authority chairman Lord Harris discussed policing arrangements and was described as 'positive'. In a joint statement with the Mayor and the police authority, Sir John said: "The priority now is to have a fully-recruited and fully-trained stewarding operation to support the extra 1,200 officers policing the event." The number of stewards is slightly less than had been previously anticipated (see below), so there will be a more noticeable police rather than stewarding presence, but who's complaining if it means Carnival can go on as planned now. Despite the last-minute improvements in stewarding arrangements, previous safety concerns have already affected the line-up of major acts for this year's Carnival. Unfortunately crowd safety concerns have already caused all three main live stages, scheduled to feature Radio One, MTV and Damon Albarn's band Gorillaz, to cancel. But do not fear there will still be plenty of sound systems and all the usual Carnival activities, watch this space for more news and info…

Carnival organisers meet today to discuss overcrowding - 02/08/01
Today sees Carnival organisers meeting to discuss safety plans, with the number of stewards a particular concern this year. Gorrilaz have already been forced to pull out of Carnival after fears of overcrowding prompted authorities to encourage the popular - and local (see Damon Albarn's biography)- band not to play. There have been claims that the Notting Hill Carnival Trust has not been able to supply as many stewards as it did last year. After numerous violent incidents and two deaths marred last year's event the Carnival Trust is being challenged to make the event safer than last year. As ever expectations of numbers are up from previous years. Last year around 2 million people came to enjoy the most important party event of the London calendar. With fears of gun related violence at Carnival - see below for more details - particularly in the wake of the Met's recent deliberations over weapon use, the police (as ever) will have to be working very closely with organisers. The Met will be attending the meeting, as well as the police authority and the two local councils hosting the event. The meeting will attempt to resolve the problem of stewarding. Originally one steward to every ten police officers was suggested, with 8,000 police officers to cover the area. However the Carnival Trust has said it can't fund its allocation of 200 because of financial difficulties, though it's still charged with selecting the 500 people who will steward. The council have criticised them for not sorting this problem out before, but let's just hope the stewards are found and funded as soon as possible. I certainly wouldn't like to see even more police officers employed to steward the event instead. The metropolitan police are issuing warnings that the Notting Hill Carnival has the potential to disintegrate into a bloody, gun frenzied event, as gun related murders rise throughout the capital. Carnival 2000, primarily an amazing event enjoyed by up to two million people, established itself in the press with regard to the shooting and senseless murder of two individuals. Issues raised post carnival 2000, centred on violence, crowd control and violence and Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens has "grave concerns" that organisers are failing to take security seriously enough. Similar to previous years, the National Front are threatening to hijack the event, adding to the officers concerns with regard to safety. A major concern is crowd control, maintained by stewards. This year, we can expect to see treble last year's numbers, an increase which has been enabled by £200,000 in cash from the GLA and Kensington and Chelsea Council, however the Notting Hill Carnival Trust is facing criticism for its failure to organise 600 stewards who are expected to play a key part in crowd control. The Commissioner believes that his only option will be to encourage people to stay away from the event, whether this will have any impact will be a matter of deliberation, the event attracted over 2 million people last year. The August bank holiday event is a national and international event, renowned for and established for the integration of culture and appreciation of cultural plurality.

Ken announces carnival route changes - 19/06/01
Ken Livingstone has announced last minute plans to change and lengthen the route of Notting Hill Carnival. With less than 10 weeks to go before the internationally acclaimed bank holiday festival, the Mayor has announced plans to adapt the route of the carnival procession so that it may end in or outside Hyde Park. The Carnival Review panel, headed by Mr Livingstone believe that a route such as this would aid crowd control and allow more effective policing of the event. However, local councils are not welcoming the last minute changes. Councillor merrick Cockell, Leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council said: "To simply announce with less than 10 weeks to go that the Carnival is now to be re-routed to Hyde Park without discussing the matter with any member of the Carnival Safety Group and without addressing our very real safety concerns is somewhat high handed. Indeed the GLA only appointed its own safety and risk assessment contractors last week to carry out work for 2002. "Simply lengthening the route does not necessarily mean Carnival will close down any earlier, and we know that crime and disorder increases after dark." Claire Holder Chief Executive of Notting Hill Carnival responded to Mr Livingstones announcement: "I am very grateful for the intervention of Ken Livingstone, we have been requesting a change to the carnival route for years. "The late notice is not a problem - The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea should not be worried either, they have been aware our requests to change the route for years." The Royal Parks Agency has dismissed the idea that Carnival might end in Hyde Park, so it may well end up finishing just outside the gates

Sound systems offer noisy debate at Review Group meeting - 06/06/01
The GLA's Notting Hill Carnival Review Group will consider recommendations from the British Association of Sound Systems at a public meeting tonight. The cultural content of Carnival is likely to be the focus of discussion, particularly the emphasis that should be given to the static sound systems and the other Carnival disciplines of soca, calypso, mas and steel bands, which reflect Carnival's historic Caribbean roots. In recent years concerns have been expressed that the static sound systems attract large crowds into enclosed spaces, which restricts spolice and emergency service access. However, representatives of the sound systems say they can use their vantage points to identify crowd control problems, and that assigning a steward to each sound system would enhance this public safety role. Glen Falconer of the British Association of Sound Systems will also suggest that some of the recommendations of the Carnival Review Group interim report may marginalise the sound systems. He is also concerned at lack of funding for the sound systems' activities and the requirement that they provide and insure their own on-site generators rather than electricity supply points being made available. BASS have also proposed that the sound systems host their own pre-Carnival event.Lee Jasper, Chair of the Notting Hill Carnival Review Group said:
'It is very encouraging to see that the sound systems share our view that public safety must be the absolute priority, and that the operators are keen to work more closely with the stewards and police. 'However, some of the specific issues that the sound systems have raised conflict with what we have heard from other Carnival disciplines. We are determined to make the Notting Hill Carnival sustainable. This will mean striking a balance between the more traditional elements of Carnival and the sound systems which have played such an important role in keeping Carnival fresh and bringing in new participants.'
The event is taking place at:
Isaac Newton Centre
108A Lancaster Rd
London W11 1QS
The Isaac Newton Centre can be reached from Ladbroke Grove tube, or by buses 7, 15, 23, 52, 70 and 302

Carnival lessons - whatever next???? - 30/04/01
If somebody said the words "carnival lessons" to you - what you would think of? How to smoke a spliff? How to shake your bootie? How to survive the day without getting pickpocketed ? Well not quite, but "carnival lessons - a cultural guide to Notting Hill's biggest event - could soon to be part of the curriculum London's schools… Greater London Authority's Carnival Review Group are trying to encourage schools to get kids more involved in the Notting Hill Festival, with aim being to develop an understanding of the "culture of carnival." Joan Anim-Ado, Head of the Caribbean Centre at Goldsmiths College, has been reported in the media this week as saying: "The time has come for Carnival arts to be taken seriously. Carnival's social as well as educational value to communities has yet to be realised."

Steel Bands Furious Over Carnival Reroute Decision - 04/04/01
Steel bands are up in arms with regard to the announcement that Notting Hill Carnival route will not change this year. Band members and supporters are reputed to be sick of being blamed for late night finishes, claiming that the real problem is static sound systems and dozens of mobile sound systems. Carnival 2000 saw excessive congestion problems, with floats stuck in the same place for hours at a time, with performers becoming exhausted and disenchanted. In a public meeting last Wednesday, many steel bands said that they would boycott the carnival unless route changes are pushed through. The GLA carnival review group suggested a straight route ending in a panorama - a seated area where floats and performers are judged - and more entry and exit points for vehicles. Kensington and Chelsea Council is suggesting a licensing system for floats to reduce the amount of vehicles congesting the route. Notting Hill Carnival Trust chief executive Claire Holder said: "I do think the problems we are having now are inextricably linked to the congestion which happens long the route. "The route was fine for 500.000 people 10 years ago. But that is not the case now." It is estimated more than 1.5 million people attended the carnival last year and up to two million the year before.

Eight charged over Carnival attack - 27/03/01
Eight people are to appear in court charged with violent disorder in connection with the murder of Abdul Bhatti, who was beaten to death at the Notting Hill Carnival. Mr Bhatti, a 28-year-old insurance salesman from Hounslow, was killed after trying to intervene in a gang attack on a friend. Mr Bhatti was targeted by a mob of up to 50 people and kicked and punched to the ground. He suffered a head injury and died the day after the attack, which took place at around 7pm on August Bank Holiday Monday. A 16-year-old girl is among those charged

Carnival awarded cash - 23/03/01
The Notting Hill Carnival and two of London's great symphony orchestras are among the capital's many arts organisations to benefit from some of the biggest increases ever awarded by the grant-giving body, London Arts. Final figures are still being worked out but over the next three years London Arts support for the carnival, currently at £324,000 a year, will rise to well over £500,000. Lady Hollick, chair of London Arts, said: "I am particularly delighted that we will be able to make a real difference to the development of Carnival in London. "We look forward to working in partnership with the GLA's carnival review group to ensure that the Notting Hill Carnival becomes a leading arts event for London and the world. The increase in funding comes just days after national papers reported on a row developing between the organisers of the Notting Hill Carnival and Westminster council. Claire Holder, the event's chief executive, has publicly criticised the town hall for "deliberately misrepresenting" the carnival trust. Ms Holder reacted after councillors warned of a public safety threat should the carnival be moved to Hyde Park. Ms Holder insisted she was only suggesting a review of the current route following overcrowding concerns and the violence that left two dead last year. "We're not planning any activity in the park. The cost and the ethos of the carnival would make that inconceivable. But we need wider roads because of concerns about the lack of entry and exit points on our present route. We considering going back to the roads we used in the 1970's and 1980's like Bayswater Road where there's room for seating on the pavement outside the park." "Westminster are repeating the misinformation that we're moving. They don't want to consult us but just make policy decision s and expect s to abide by them. That's what so offensive."

Man denies murder charges - 21/03/01
A man who is currently at the centre of the Greg Watson (Notting Hill Carnival) murder trial is pleading not guilty. Sean Cephinis, 19, unemployed, of Wembley, appeared in court yesterday pleading not guilty to murdering Mr Watson and has now been remanded on conditional bail until his trial on 24 Sepember. Mr Watson, from Northolt, the father of a three-week-old girl, died after being stabbed at the carnival in August.

Curry Murray in Argy Bargy - 20/02/01
A man who stabbed a reveller at Notting Hill Carnival in a row over a goat curry has been jailed for three years. The incident occured when Mr Murray became incensed by Mr Renford, the victim, throwing a paper plate full of the dish into the air. Some of the food landed on Mr Murrays' friends. During the ensuing brawl Mr Renford slipped on some of the goat curry, landing on his back and allowing Murray to stab between the shoulders. Mr Renford suffered a punctered lung. After being chased and captured by the police Murray told them: "I ain't done no stabbing." However the incident had been caught on CCTV and Murray later admitted one charge of wounding with intent. The incident took place on the 31 August 2000, the day before two young men were fatally attacked in unrelated incidents.

Proposals for a safer carnival - 13/02/01
The Carnival Review Group, set up by London Mayor Ken Livingstone, today published its interim report outlining a number of recommendations to improve the safety of this year's event. Proposals put forward ensured that the carnival stay within the refines of the Notting Hill neighbourhood but that a non-circular route be adopted with the procession potentially ending in an open space. It has been suggested that this would ease crowd and float congestion whilst also dispersing crowds from residential areas. Past meetings have posed Wormwood Scrubs or Hyde Park as possible end locations. A reduction in the number of sound systems and commerical floats has also been a suggested after residents and participants voiced their concern about the commercialisation of the event and the loss of it's roots. With respect to policing, the Review Panel have proposed that the Met and the Carnival Trust develop a jointly agreed community safety plan that will sllow the police to focus on crime detection and prevention rather than on crowd management. It has also been suggested that a police be allocated to each band or float in order to help ease congestion on the route and assist the floats in completing the route on time. Ken Livingstone said: "I am committed to acting on these recommendations and call on all of the partners involved in the running of the Carnival to work together and with my office to ensure the event's long term sustainability. This requires a commitment from all parties to work together in the interests of public safetly and cultural excellence. Carnival is a wonderful coming together of all of London's communities. It will require the effort and support of everyone to make it a safe and enjoyable family event." The Carnival Review Group aims to publish a final report with long-term recommendations for the future organisation and resourcing of the Notting Hill Carnival in the Spring.

New Curbs For Carnival Rejected - 11/01/01
The proposals for a stricter curfew for the Carnival, in order to appease the unsettled feelings which developed in the wake of Carnival 2000, have been rejected as the solution to a safer carnival. The suggestions were put to the GLA by Westminster Council and the Royal Borough Council. The proposal for an 8 o'clock curfew on the festivities was put forward to the Review Panel at the GLA just last week and has already been dismissed by local interest groups and residents. The curfew for sound systems has for the past few years been 7pm, with the floats supposedly finishing at 9pm, however this has never whole heartedly been the case. The entire course of the carnival route, at busy times of the day, can take up to eight hours to complete, so by 9pm there are still many floats 'stranded' on the carnival route who still have to make it back to their meeting point, resulting in floats still evident in the neighbourhood until well after midnight. The chair of the Notting Hill Carnival Residents Group, Cye Ford is quick to point out that the finishing time for the parade is not so much the issue, rather the noise, pollution, crime and overcrowding. "There are so many issues which are bigger than what time the carnival closes. The problem is that the carnival has become too big." Carnival 2000 was marred by crowd crushes, lack of toilet facilities, crime and sadly the murder of two men and the vicious attack and rape of a young woman. The Residents Group strongly appoint these problems to the size of the event, believing it has outgrown the area and suggesting that it is either drastically reduced in size or moved to another location. Local residents and participators have also become concerned by the manner in which the carnival is developing, suggesting that it is losing its' historical roots as a celebration of Caribbean culture. Notting Hill Carnival Trust chairman Anton McCalla said: "We are conducting our own review which focuses on timing and route management. The results will be published in due course." As reported last week, neighbouring boroughs have pledged their support for the carnival, offering additional enforcement officers.

Review Panel Work Towards a Safer Carnival - 04/01/01
After a period of consultation, the GLA Carnival Review Panel has begun to create proposals to curb noise, pollution and violence throughout the bank holiday festivities. The panel, created in the wake of the murders of carnival 2000, has been working in partnership with both Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea Councils, creating plans to endorse an eight o'clock curfew on the event, an hour earlier than previous years. The two Tory-run councils have submitted their demands to the Review Panel with support from neighbouring boroughs who have agreed to provide additional enforcement officers. The proposals also include a reduction on the number of floats that are submitted to the event, a move which is hoped to reduce hold ups, crushes and excess noise. The Notting Hill Carnival began in 1964 and since then has become Europe's largest arts festival with 45 sound systems, hundreds of stalls, three stages and more than 60 floats on a three-mile radius. Although the curfew for the carnival has been 9pm in the past, floats and sound systems taking part in the festival do not leave the vicinity until at least midnight. Residents complain about the mess, crowd crushes, violence and noise, they point most of the blame on the influx of sound systems in the last few years and the impromptu parties that take place around the route after hours. Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea Council are calling for curbs to be enforced on the event in order to ensure it is a safer and more enjoyable event. "The Carnival needs to be scaled down, and returned to its traditional role as a day time showcase for Caribbean art and culture." "The Council will deploy more enforcement officers to crackdown on unlicensed street traders and improve crowd safety over the two day event. Mobil CCTB systems will be set up to improve crime detection." The Review Group who have been collated the proposals and opinions of interested parties commented: "We want to carry out as wide a consultation as possible on the future of the carnival. Our aim is to ensure everyone enjoys the spectacle and celebration of carnival and to support and strengthen the event for the future." Views on the future of the carnival can be given to the Review Group by e-mail at or by telephoning the Review Group answer phone on 020 7983 4077.
More information can be found on the GLA website at

Carnival Review Panel Meet with Notting Hill Residents - 22/11/01
The GLA Carnival Review Panel met last night at the Tabernacle Arts Centre, to discuss the Carnival, the problems and the solutions, as voiced by the local community. The floor consisted of what initially appeared to be quite a divided audience, with the Residents Carnival Association on one side and organisers and participants on the other. However, all were in agreement with respect to the funding of the event, the commercialisation of the event and the shift of emphasis that has taken place within the Carnival during the past 10 years. A major issue, voiced at the Residents Carnival Association only last month, and by the audience at the meeting last night concerned the funding of the event. Band members and leaders, masquerades and costume designers, residents and local business all of whom are concerned about capital in one respect or another. It is believed that a large amount of capital is created throughout the bank holiday festival, however none of the above parties seem to be benefiting from this revenue. "Who benefits from the Carnival? Big business, treasury - Where is our share? It needs to be put back into the community - to ensure that the parishioners benefit." The commercialisation of the event is also tied to this respect of revenue, in the past 10 years the event has become increasingly influenced by big business, with the Radio One Stage, Budweiser, Heinz etc. all of which have been seen to use this cultural event to advertise their brands, reaching up to 2 million people in one weekend with what appears to be a limited amount of expenditure. "There should be no more commercialisation of the Carnival - there should be education, funding and appropriate recognition." Residents and organisers voiced their concerns about the Carnival getting out of control, about it losing touch with it's roots and the origins of West Indian culture. "Carnival is about floats, costumes and bands - not about trucks, advertising and big business"
"The Carnival is selling its soul to the Corporates." At the end of the meeting Lee Jasper, an advisory to the Mayor and the Chair of the Review Panel, reiterated his dedication to the Carnival: "We want to make Carnival sustainable, not just for this year but so that it may continue into the future - it will take political commitment and resources but it is a testament to the vibrancy of West Indian culture." Questionnaires have been circulated throughout the local community in an attempt to gain public opinion, the deadline for submissions is 4th December after which the Panel will assess all information received and begin to formulate definite plans of action. If you have not received your questionnaire please contact the GLA on 020 7983 4100



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