A post- Notting Hill Carnival meeting for residents was dominated by the street party’s future remaining in its current location.
The annual meeting, arranged by the London Notting Hill Carnival Enterprises Trust (LHNCET), saw a passionate audience of more than a 100 argue for and against the relocation of Europe’s largest street party.
Among those present was Kensington’s Conservative MP Lady Victoria Borwick, who was accused by others of advocating the relocation of the carnival to Hyde Park.
That stance would be at odds with Tory-run Kensington and Chelsea Council , which stated its full support for the street party to remain where it is.
However, there was general consensus that the celebration of black culture that the carnival was set up to mark half a century ago was being lost and that a return to its roots was needed.
Other topics discussed included toilet provisions and the carnival route.
The meeting was held at Kensington Town hall on Wednesday (October 27) and featured LHNCET trustee director Lewis Benn, Met Chief Superintendent Jane Connors, and James Fitzgerald, interim head of culture at the council.
Discussion started with an audience member calling the carnival a “complete disaster” before reeling crime statistics from the August event and calling for it to be moved to Hyde Park.
Others hit back, comparing the percentage of offences to other events which draw in loud crowds such as T in the Park festival.
Cllr Emma Dent Coad, a Labour member who backs the carnival remaining in Notting Hill said: “Criminals come to carnival, carnival doesn’t create the criminals.”
Another asked for the event to move to Hyde Park or Wormwood Scrubs with an element of celebration remaining in Notting Hill.
Mr Fitzgerald referred to a council survey conducted last year which showed around two-thirds of residents backing it remaining at its current location.
One speaker spoke passionately about the carnival, referring to it on many occasions as a “joyful event”.
She said: “I’ve found young ladies relieving themselves outside my house.
" But that’s what happens when people get drunk, you’ll find that in town centres too, it’s not just a feature of carnival.
“This is a joyful community event. We see generations of families dancing together and smiling.
“The music can be too loud, the smell can be overwhelming, but it’s two days in the year.
"If you can’t stand carnival move.”
African drumming at the 2016 Carnival
Mr Benn said the trust was determined to keep the carnival in Notting Hill, but was questioned how he would work with Lady Borwick.
An audience member called her survey “offensive” and “prejudiced” and asked: “How are we going to work with this person?
"The council have been very supportive of carnival, there’s a lot of support, but I’m concerned the MP has the totally opposite view.”
Mr Benn admitted the direction of the carnival needed changing.
He told the audience: “Artistic value to carnival must be brought back.
"We are on the precipice of moving from a cultural event to a festival event.
“We want people to come and admire and want to understand the cultural carnival and how to be part of it.
"Education is a very important in this event.
“It’s the greatest cultural event for London and we need to make sure it’s properly managed.”
Labour’s Cllr, Pat Mason, said: “Carnival is not going to move anywhere.
"An MP should not be telling people that because it’s not going to happen.
“It’s disgraceful that someone says that, because they’ve been saying that for the past 30 years and it’s still here.”
Cllr Tim Coleridge, a senior council cabinet member also spoke from the floor.
He said: “The council’s view is that carnival will remain on the streets of Notting Hill .
“We would like to see it safer next year.
"If it doesn’t get safer or better it won’t sustain itself.
“If we want carnival here in 50 years it has to be about culture.”
After the meeting Lady Borwick defended herself.
She told getwestlondon : “I don’t have a view point.
"I sent out a questionnaire and people added to that with their views.”
And referring to the meeting she said: “You could see that people care. They have passion about making a really fabulous carnival.”
Cllr Coleridge later added: “We are not at loggerheads [with Lady Borwick]. She represents the views of people she has spoken to.”
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