Wednesday February 14, 2001
The Notting Hill Carnival, Europe's biggest
street party, may be rerouted to one of London's royal parks
under plans being considered by the Greater London Authority.
fears growing for the long-term future of the carnival, the
GLA has drawn up other possible routes for the famous procession
of floats and sound systems.
intention is to disperse the huge crowds away from the tight
residential streets of west London, where two men were murdered
last year. Greg Watson, 21, was stabbed to death on the final
evening of the carnival, shortly after Abdul Bhatti, 28, a
salesman, was left with fatal injuries by a gang who beat
him. There were 11 stabbings over the August bank holiday
weekend in Notting Hill, and 132 robberies, up from 13 in
rise in violent crime led to claims the carnival was not effectively
policed because officers were concerned they would be labelled
racist if they used stop and search powers. But an independent
review group, headed by Lee
Jasper, mayor Ken Livingstone's adviser on race relations,
has concluded that a more effective dispersal of crowds would
this end new routes are being considered including leading
floats to Hyde Park or to grounds near Wormwood Scrubs prison,
to the north- west of Notting Hill. Options include organising
other music events across the capital to draw people away
from Notting Hill.
interim report recommended that while Notting Hill should
remain the heart of the procession a non-circular route ending
in an open space would help crowd dispersal.
also recommended a system of stewarding that would allow police
to concentrate on crime rather than crowd control. The first
day of the event, the Sunday, should be more family friendly,
with fewer sound systems and commercial floats.
report's findings represent a consensus view of what is needed
for Carnival 2001," Mr Jasper said. "It was felt by all that
in recent years, carnival has become the victim of its own
success. What began as a spontaneous celebration has grown
into Europe's largest street festival.
primary concern has been that carnival must be a safe and
enjoyable occasion for participants, visitors and residents
alike, young and old."
royal parks agency questioned whether Hyde Park could cope
with the crowds, even though it is a regular venue for live
music in the summer. William Weston, the agency's chief executive,
said: "There are significant hurdles to be overcome. But we
are happy to explore, with the review group, how and if these
problems might be overcome."