In the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy many questions have been raised as to the appropriateness of celebrating the Notting Hill Carnival while the grisly tomb of so many unaccounted for victims still scars the landscape of North Kensington.
Will the standing tower become an emotive trigger to civil unrest? Is such a celebration insensitive to the survivors and bereaved relatives who are still recovering from their trauma and coming to terms with their loss?
Such concerns have been highlighted by Conservative MP, Greg Hands, Minster for London in a recent letter to the Mayor of London, Saddiq Khan. In his letter he asked is it “appropriate to stage a Carnival in the near proximity of a major national disaster?” and went on to propose either moving the event or for the GLA to take over the Carnival.
While there is some legitimacy to his concerns, Greg Hands remarks have been greeted with suspicion from the carnival community and many local residents.
Is this another cynical ploy hatched by those in government who seek to gain control over the event and dislodge the Notting Hill Carnival from its traditional home by exploiting the tragedy?
One resident, Joe Delaney who lost friends in the inferno and was himself evacuated from one the surrounding estates and is currently being housed in a hotel said: “Kensington & Chelsea council have been agitating for at least 30 years to stop the carnival. The carnival is a celebration of the area and its people and therefore the carnival should happen for that reason alone. It should be used as a memorial for those who died. It should be used as a reminder to others of how these people were treated and we will be celebrating the memory of those who lost their lives.”
Since the 1970s the carnival has been the victim of a relentless campaign of negative publicity that overshadows the artistry, creativity and hard work invested by performers and musicians to make the event possible. This negative coverage has contributed to an atmosphere of discontent and distrust of the mainstream media among the local community, undermining the credibility of those Conservative MP’s and local councillors who fail to recognise the value and the virtues of the carnival, instead continually maligning the event, viewing it as a public nuisance and threat to public order and safety.
Former Conservative MP for Kensington, Victoria Borwick has been one of these vocal critiques and has for several years been the most visible character spearheading the campaign for the Carnival to be relocated, often citing crime and concerns over public safety.
When put into context of other festivals across Britain, it becomes apparent that Notting Hill Carnival has been unfairly represented in terms of negative coverage and thus explains much of the resentment that many carnival performers and participants feel.
1. Ashton Launcherley died after being found “doused” in petrol and engulfed in flames at Glastonbury last year.
2. Livvy Christopher died at Boomtown festival in Winchester after cocktail of cocaine, ketamine, LSD and MDMA. £70.000 work of drugs seized. (50.000 people attendance)
3. Megan Ball and Peter McCallum 17 year olds teens died of drugs related deaths at T in the park.
4. Lewis Haunch 17 years old dies from drugs overdose at Leeds Festival.
5. 170 arrested at Edinburgh Festival. 156 of these arrests being for drugs, theft and robbery.
6. Bestival Festival on the Isle of White. 50.000 attendance. 106 arrests. Including muggings at knife point. An increase in crime of 30%. £175.000 worth of drugs seized. The equivalent of a £3,500.000 seizure at carnival. Yet the police describe the event as a success.
· One minutes silence at 3.00pm (Shaping the mood)
· Quote from Emma Dent Coad, Pepe Francis,
· London Street Events Contract to highlight council corruption. His company is being paid £88.000 and an operational budget. The contract was granted without broader consultation by the carnival committee.
Underfunding of the event - public, not private/ticketed - movement strategy doc.
Movement of control of carnival from the carnival committee to London Street Events or a third party.
Dave Morgan very community minded. Not a bad bloke. Political move by council to take over the event. Manage through a body that you trust.
Demonstrates that the council distrust the committee.
The history of carnival Kelso Cochrane.
The need to brand the carnival
Today's publicised perception of the carnival as entertainment and a tourist attraction distances itself and trivialises the deep cultural struggle for individual and collective empowerment of marginalised and oppressed people.
With the new Labour MP and the exit of elements that have traditionally opposed the carnival, there is an opportunity to recalibrate public opinion and run the carnival with the support and endorsement of the government. To give the carnival its rightful and respectful recognition for what it contributes to society.
Carnival images in British Embassies across the world.
The build up to the 2012 Olympics.
176 arrests Edinburgh Festival 2015. 156 arrests of which were for drugs, theft and robbery. Police hailed the overall operation in the city centre as a success and commended the “vast majority” of festival-goers for their conduct.
A man has suffered "horrific" multiple stab wounds and another has died at Scotland's biggest music festival.
A 22-year-old man was attacked at the T in the Park campsite at about 0045 BST. In a separate incident another man was found dead in his tent on Sunday.
About 80,000 music fans are at the three-day event, being staged in Perth and Kinross.
'I find it quite bizarre that an MP from another constituency should attempt to tell the community around Grenfell how to grieve. We know how to grieve. The Carnival community has been thinking of various ways to respect and pay tribute to the families and neighbours who have been lost, and to survivors. It is for them to decide what is appropriate.
'How Greg Hands can imagine he has any insight whatever into what should happen in North Ken is beyond comprehension, and demonstrates how little learning has followed this avoidable disaster. He should think on that before he tells anyone else how to behave.' – Emma Dent Coad, MP for Kensington
carnival + grenfell
will carnival have civil unrest as a result?
Conservative quote: there will surely be trouble!
why would they say that?
deceased carnival participants and attendees + planned carnival commemorations
past negative media coverage
local government critical agenda
is carnival actually dangerous compared to well accepted large scale events?
history of carnival policing
history of carnival as a response to social issues
the current more than slightly corrupt crowd control / policing setup run by RBK&C council, and the police’s specialist involvement + safety measures
is carnival underfunded? which bits & approximate overall budget
carnival committee & event organisers statements
lack of co-operation + major differences of opinion between RBK&C and carnival committee, police not necessarily taking RBK&C’s line and better liked by carnival committee than RBK&C
is carnival already the most heavily policed area in the UK?
what can we expect with new Labour MP? Quote: that conservative MP is quite mad and has no idea of what should happen in north ken
the likely outcome of carnival: 1 minute’s complete silence at 3pm, Monday, with all attendees facing the tower
the tower will have stood as a charred public monument representing in bleak reality the conservative government’s cruel negligence, directly exposing the harsh impact of the incremental budget cuts, selloffs, deregulation, and profiteering private industry “redevelopment” that has been termed “austerity”.