Notting HIll Carnival

Tory Minister Calls for Relocation of Notting Hill Carnival

The MP for Chelsea and Fulham said it wasn't "appropriate" to stage the event in the vicinity of Grenfell Tower
07 July 2017, 1:09pm
Will Coutts

Greg Hands, the Conservative MP for Chelsea and Fulham, the borough in which Grenfell Tower is located, has asked London Mayor Sadiq Khan to relocate this year's Notting Hill Carnival.

In a letter sent to the Mayor which he posted to his Twitter account this morning, Hands, who is also the Minister for London called for Sadiq Khan to "take over charge of the Notting Hill Carnival and move it from around a major disaster site."

His letter questions the appropriateness of holding the carnival in the area given the tragic events that unfolded on the 14th of June:

"The Carnival is an important and symbolic community celebration in our capital's calendar... clearly it must go ahead. However we have to ask ourselves if it is appropriate to stage a Carnival in the near proximity of a major national disaster. I would like you to consider moving the location, and/or the GLA [the Mayor and the London assembly], with its experience of running major events, taking over the carnival, in conjunction with the current organisers".

Sadiq Khan was quick to reject Mr Hand's calls to relocate the carnival, stating that its place remained in the streets that have hosted it since 1966: "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."

There have been repeated attempts by government and local councils to move Carnival to Hyde Park. Last year Kensington MP Lady Victoria Borwick wrote to the Mayor hinting that Carnival should be moved. She told him to hold a "formal and strategic review of the Notting Hill Carnival" saying the event "ahas become an excuse for a rave, criminal acts and lewd behaviour that do not show London at its best."

It is extremely unclear, though, why the Grenfell tragedy would be any basis for moving carnival. Certainly, none of the people affected by the disaster have called for it. It cannot be based on security concerns – Grenfell was a fire, not a terrorist attack. Many have drawn the conclusion that Greg Hands is being opportunistic, trying to use the tragedy of Grenfell, which many residents blame on the government and the local council, to achieve a long-held aim of moving Carnival and taking power away from the event's organisers.

The coordinator of Justice4Grenfell has said of the letter that there always seems to be a "propaganda campaign" against the carnival due to fears of a riot breaking out. She said, "The carnival route does not go near Grenfell and I'm failing to find the link between the Grenfell Tower fire and carnival."

The grime artist Stormzy, who lives in the area, expressed similar views, tweeting:

It seems likely this will be seen as yet another completely tone deaf and out of touch pronouncement from a Tory politician following the fire.