Notting Hill Carnival meeting descends into chaos

EXCLUSIVE Furious residents fear ‘another Grenfell’ and slam council over Notting Hill Carnival’s ‘box ticking’ exercise as crunch meeting on its future descends into chaos with mothers expressing fear for their children’s safety

  •  EXCLUSIVE: A meeting to discuss the future of Notting Hill Carnival turned ugly
  • Police arrested 308 people over two-day event in West London on August 27/28

A crunch meeting discussing the future of Notting Hill Carnival descended into chaos last night as onlookers flung fury at panelists and said they did not feel safe letting their children walk the streets during the celebrations.

A representative for Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea ended up apologising for security that ‘didn’t go smoothly’ – as residents said housing associations had been ‘kettled’, while locked entrances and exits risked ‘another Grenfell’.

Others slammed the meeting as a ‘tick box exercise’ lorded over by ‘condescending’ representatives who did not show enough respect for the crowd. But choruses of boos greeted the idea of moving the carnival – as residents delivered a resounding judgement on whether it should be held elsewhere in the future.

The ‘chaos’ broke out at after the Carnival Village Trust held a post-event residents’ meeting at the The Tabernacle in Notting Hill last night.

Police arrested 308 people over the two-day event in West London on the August Bank Holiday.  The event saw ‘unsustainable’ levels of violence with eight revellers stabbed and at least 75 officers assaulted. Six of the officers were bitten, one was sexually assaulted and another suffered a serious hand injury. 

Petrified carnival-goers also saw a hooded thug charging across the street wielding a foot-long machete, while another was spotted raising a zombie knife in the air. This year’s event saw the highest number of stabbings since 2016, when there were 15. 

Last night residents gathered to discuss concerns over Notting Hill Carnival and the future of the event

A young man waves around a machete at Notting Hill Carnival in West London last month

A man is seen running across Ladbroke Grove holding a machete-type blade on August 28

Research by MailOnline today established that there have been 5,319 arrests made over the past 20 years at the carnival – with this year’s total of 308 up by 47 per cent on the 209 at last year’s event, which also saw the first carnival murder since 2004. 

At last night’s meeting, held in Notting Hill, was a mother of one of the boys who had been stabbed at the Carnival. 

She said: ‘My son has been the victim of the stabbing, and I just wanted you all to take a look at what a victim looks like.

‘There is there perception that whoever has been stabbed is up to no good – I’m a normal mother. I work hard and try to provide the best for my children.

‘And on Monday 28, my son left the house not knowing he was going to be safe because he knows that every time he goes out he could be harassed by police or harassed by gangs.

‘So before he left the house he said a prayer for his grandmother always encouraged him.

‘When he left straight away he was stop and searched by police and then he was approached by a group of young people wearing masks. They attacked him.

‘How did you allow him to go home on his own – no safety, no support, nothing. He is very lucky to be here.’

Another, Melanie Wolfe, who has lived in the area since the 1990s and founded a community kitchen in the borough added: ‘As the mother of a local child the number one thing that our parents, our children, our youth are concerned about is their safety.

Police detain a young man on Ladbroke Grove on August 28 during the Notting Hill Carnival

Crews who carried out the clean-up estimated collecting 13 tonnes of laughing gas canisters

Last night, organisers the Carnival Village Trust held a post-event residents’ meeting

‘How are they going to remain safe. Get the community involved and make sure our kids are safe. 

‘Because my daughter has just turned 13 – I’m sorry, what am I supposed to do? 

‘I want her to go out with her friends, I want her to be loving it, but I also want her to be safe and I want to know what’s happening.

‘Other people are coming in – we’re the residents, we’re the community. Please work with us.’

The representative from RBKC, Director of Cleaner, Greener and Cultural Services Terry Oliver, apologised for security issues on the Sunday of the event.

He said: ‘What has happened this year is that, as most RBKC social housing residents would have known, there has been a change in contract and it didn’t go smoothly on the Sunday and we all hold our hands up for that.

‘But they should have corrected that as soon as possible. We got a lot of complaints on Sunday and they weren’t performing their contracts and I personally met with them and said: “Pull those socks up because this isn’t right.”

‘We’ve got a contract point, we’ve got a spec, they didn’t deliver on it. They put their hands up and then they put more resources into it for Monday and I hop you can all agree that Monday was a lot better.

‘It wasn’t great over that weekend at all and I really do apologise for that.’

There have been growing calls for the annual party to be moved to another location such as nearby Hyde Park, with Policing Minister Chris Philp revealing he could be open to seeing it relocated if this was recommended by the Metropolitan Police. 

Susan Hall, the Conservative candidate in the 2024 London mayoral election, called for the carnival to be moved to another area.

The Metropolitan Police Federation, which represents officers in the capital, has also echoed these suggestions.

This map issued in a booklet for residents this year reveals the Notting Hill Carnival area

A man is seen to wield a large machete-type blade on Ladbroke Grove on August 28

A man holds his face in his hands at the carnival as he is escorted away by police on August 28

A man waves a machete-type weapon around at Notting Hill Carnival on August 28

Its vice chairman Rick Prior last week condemned the level of violence as ‘unsustainable’, saying: ‘It is just awful and this sort of violence against officers at this event has become normalised.

‘The officers have a right to come to work and expect not to be attacked, injured, sexually assaulted or bitten. Those bitten will have had to be given anti-viral drugs if the skin was broken, and will now need all sorts of tests – it is horrendous.

‘It has almost become a certainty we will have this violence and terrible treatment of police officers every year and it is just not acceptable.

‘It is a very difficult event to police and of course we recognise the need for this event but it should perhaps be moved to somewhere like Hyde Park where it would be less problematic to police.’

Meanwhile Ms Hall has labelled the carnival ‘dangerous’ and has suggested it should be moved to Hyde Park.

But when suggested at the meeting by one resident, questioners received a resounding answer.

A man said: ‘All I can see is a lot of complaints about the carnival. Everything is a complaint! This is terrible.

‘I would like to ask the police whether we should move the carnival?’

Police officers detain a person during the first day of the Notting Hill Carnival on August 27

Mounted police officers make their way through the streets of Notting Hill last month

Chaotic scenes at Notting Hill Carnival on August 28, pictured around the Ladbroke Grove area

Police officers take their positions during the parade at Notting Hill Carnival on August 28

He received a resounding chorus of ‘No!’ and ‘Never!’ in response from the crowd that lasted nearly 40 seconds.

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The carnival has been held on the streets of Notting Hill every year since 1966 – apart from in 2020 and 2021 when it was cancelled due to the pandemic. 

When Ken Livingstone was mayor, he suggested it could be started in Hyde Park and then proceed to its normal venue – but the idea was dropped amid mass opposition. 

One resident complained that a road had been left with locks on each gate, with one security guard between them.

Mr Oliver clarified that these gates had been left with combination locks, and they increased the number of security guards for the next day.

He said: ‘If there had been a fire, what would have happened and what would be your response to that if someone died?’

Another voice spoke up with a chilling message, saying: ‘Another Grenfell.’ 

At one point Matthew Phillip, the CEO of the Carnival Village Trust, was forced to step in to control the crowd.

He said:  ‘This is getting into chaos. Are we here to do something constructive or not?

‘With all due respect I want to hear from residents tonight. This is a residents meeting. If you’re not clear on that and you are here for something else my office is open seven days a week.

‘Today’s meeting is a meeting for us to talk to residents and let’s just try to focus on that.’

Dancers parade through the streets of West London on August 28 – the final day of the carnival

Performers at the Notting Hill Carnival make their way through the streets on August 28

Police officers patrol during the main parade of the Notting Hill Carnival on August 27

Taking on one of the attendee’s claims that the carnival rakes in £100million a year, he added: ‘Please have an understanding of the detail of their income before we are making accusations.

‘It’s nonsense and it’s quite frankly embarrassing to us if we’re not going to tackle these things in a constructive manner.’

Speaking about the meeting, one lady said: ‘From the beginning when you started speaking your attitude seemed very condescending. It seemed as if you were literally here to tick a box.

‘This is a meeting that we have every year. The negativity that you started with to me was not very respectful to the residents and to the people who turned up to this meeting.

‘This is clearly a tick box exercise. Very clearly a tick box exercise. All of these residents should be as angry as they are if this is the way you treat them year in, year out.’

The chair of the meeting countered the point – responding: ‘I was not trying to be condescending, I was trying to control the meeting.’

One resident raged: ‘You promise year after year that you’re going to regenerate, to put money back into the community and instead of that you’ve gentrified the place, cost us more money to even walk around the streets in Ladbroke Grove.

‘It’s not Notting Hill carnival, yeah, it’s Ladbroke Grove carnival – it always has been.

Police officers keep a lookout during the parade at the Notting Hill Carnival on August 28

Crowds pack the streets on the second day of this year’s Notting Hill Carnival on August 28

Revellers at the Notting Hill Carnival on August 28 as they pass through gates in West London

Crowds pack the streets on the second day of this year’s Notting Hill Carnival on August 28

‘Every year you have your meetings and you talk about stuff but what about the money? Where’s the money?

‘The youth are all running around on the streets who you keep talking about, running about with nowhere to go.

‘We’re supposed to be putting back into our community – the community which gets trashed by all the foreigners all over the world every year.’

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Others complained that letters, booklets and passes had not been delivered to residents – as the council representative said they knew there had been an ‘issue’ with London Letterbox, who are responsible for delivering them. 

One man claimed his residents association had got so fed up that they printed passes on the council’s letterhead after they were not delivered for his area.

He said: ‘We as a residents association printed 2,000 RBKC passes on RBKC letterhead unofficially.

‘We asked housing for 2,000 passes and they laughed at us. They thought it was very funny.

‘You don’t seem to understand residents – people with children at local comprehensives who want to invite their friends from other schools.

‘They are young adults and people in their 30s who invite their friends to carnival. 

‘They are grandparents who lived there all their lives, their adult children being forced out of North Kensington by gentrification and they’ve asked them to carnival.

‘And RBKC can’t get them the passes.’

At this year’s event, one 29-year-old man was in a critical condition after being knifed just after 9pm on the Monday, while a 19-year-old was in a stable condition having been stabbed an hour earlier.

Scotland Yard confirmed that 308 were arrested – up from an initial total of 275 that was given – at the carnival, which was attended by an estimated two million people.

The arrests were for offences such as possession of offensive weapons including guns, assaults, possession of drugs and sexual offences.

Shocking pictures showed one man brandishing a foot-long machete very close to other carnival-goers as he ran around the streets with other group members in masks.

One image showed him appearing to point the weapon at a person on the ground. As those in the vicinity fled, police on horseback tried to chase after the group.

As well as the two men left in hospital, six others aged between 18 and 40 were stabbed in separate incidents and sustained non life-threatening injuries. 

It comes after 74 officers had been injured at the carnival last year. 

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