Sadiq Khan has pledged that Notting Hill Carnival will not be relocated in the aftermath of the Grenfell tragedy.
The mayor had been approached by Tory MPs about the safety and containment of Notting Hill Carnival this year.
Greg Hands, Conservative MP for Chelsea and Fulham, queried if it ‘ is appropriate to stage a Carnival in the near proximity of a major national disaster’ in a letter to Khan. He also asked the mayor to consider relocation of the Carnival and handing over its organisation to the Greater London Authority (GLA).
Conservative London Assembly Member for Kensington, Tony Devenish, also echoed Hands’ sentiments, calling for Khan to ‘take control’ of the Carnival and ‘ensure sensitivity and crowd safety’ over the festivities.
However many in the local community feel that the concern over Carnival is grossly misplaced. Local residents on Twitter have expressed how the carnival festivities are an expression of community spirit and solidarity in the wake of the Grenfell disaster.
“The Notting Hill Carnival is one of the world’s biggest street festivals and has become a firm London tradition over many decades. It was born out of the African-Caribbean immigrant community in North Kensington and Notting Hill in the 1950s, and it’s only right that this remains its home”, said the mayor’s office in a statement.
“Any attempt to impose a move to another location on the carnival, particularly at a time when the community has little trust in those in positions of authority, would be a mistake.”
The location of Notting Hill Carnival has been contentious point for some years now, with some calling for the carnival to be relocated to nearby Hyde Park where the procession and festivities would be more contained and easier to police.
However many are opposed to containment plans, due to the importance of Carnival to the local community in Notting Hill.
The physical location of Carnival and its placement, winding through the streets of the city, is crucial. Historically, Carnival was introduced to London by Caribbean and Latin immigrants, who brought traditions from their home countries of open-air carnival processions that took place in the community’s streets. The early days of Notting Hill Carnival were marked too by community activists who saw the importance of uniting the area’s diverse groups of residents in celebration on the streets they all shared as their neighbourhood.
Although not exclusively black-Caribbean in origin, the Carnival is also a powerful symbol and celebration of Black British life. Many have viewed the calls to move Carnival as an erasure of Black British experience and tradition from London.
Sadiq Khan added in a Tweet: “Notting Hill Carnival is a firm London tradition & incredibly important to the local community. It should not be moved.”
The Notting Hill Carnival weekend will take place on the August Bank Holiday, Saturday 26th August – Monday 28th August.