notting hill carnival under threat as mp campaigns for its move

Kensington and Chelsea's Victoria Borwick cites "violence and physical harm" as her reasonings...

by Lynette Nylander
12 October 2016, 3:50pm

2016 marked the 50th anniversary of the Notting Hill Carnival and this year's festivities were a celebration of everything that makes London one of the most exciting cities on earth, a testament to its rich diversity, with the city's own joining tourists from all over the world in a two million-strong street party that spans two days. While it is rooted in Caribbean culture, the festival has become a lucrative event with over £93 million generated for London's economy but one London MP is failing to see the wealth carnival brings to city and today has called for it to be moved from its namesake Notting Hill. The Conservative MP for Kensington and Chelsea Victoria Borwick has written to London's mayor Sadiq Khan to call for a review after "year on year increase in violence and physical harm to our police officers and members of the public". She also mentioned public urination and knife crime as reasons for its move, stating, "we need to all work together for a safe carnival that you can bring your children and grandchildren to," and has suggested moving the carnival to another area of London and to review the length of the festival.

Hattie Collins, i-D's Features Director poignantly points out in The Game-Changing Issue of i-D that "There were 175,000 people at Glastonbury this year. Carnival attracted over two million revellers. Do the maths and you'll see that one in every 4000 people that attended Carnival were arrested, versus one in every 700 at Glastonbury. So why haven't people rushed to cancel Glastonbury?" It seems that Ms Borwick's logic may be skewed on this one, when Carnival's cultural and monetary value is undeniable, we question what Mrs. Borwick's motivations may be. Surely if public nuisance and violence were Ms. Borwick's main concern, it wouldn't matter where the event took place. Maybe it's that the festival happens to be located in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, which happens to be one of the most expensive residential districts, with over 71% of its residents happening to be white, according to the 2011 census.

Carnival has always felt a bit incongruous to the area but that is part of its appeal. Gathering on the streets of every year since 1966 is a tradition for many, and Carnival's beginnings have never been more relevant. (The first carnival was in a demonstration of racial unity after the Notting Hill Race Riots of 1958.) In a year that has seen house prices rise, our economy slump and a pretty bleak future for the young people of the UK post-Brexit, Carnival remains one of the last few bastions of joy we have left and it's not just for the young, its cross-generational appeal is one of its redeeming qualities. The sound systems, the stages, the food, the faces, the dancing and the smiles; it's a jubilant reminder of what this country can be when we embrace openness and diversity and if that's not worth celebrating, we don't know what is!

Related: this is notting hill carnival, straight up


Text Lynette Nylander
Photography Ross Huggett

Notting HIll Carnival