Notting Hill Carnival boss says Susan Hall should come and see what event 'does for people'

26 August 2023, 12:26

Susan Hall has been criticised for her past comments about the festival, in which two million people are expected to celebrate Caribbean culture on the street this weekend.
Susan Hall has been criticised for her past comments about the festival, in which two million people are expected to celebrate Caribbean culture on the street this weekend. Picture: Getty
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

The Conservative mayoral candidate was criticised for tweeting in 2020 that the carnival is potentially "dangerous" and causes distress for residents.

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Matthew Phillip, the executive director of Notting Hill Carnival was speaking to LBC Reporter Fraser Knight
Matthew Phillip, the executive director of Notting Hill Carnival was speaking to LBC Reporter Fraser Knight. Picture: Alamy

Speaking to LBC's Fraser Knight the CEO of Notting Hill Carnival Matthew Phillip said the comments by the Tory candidate to be mayor "didn't bode well" for knowing what Londoners want.

The Conservative mayoral candidate for London has faced criticism for saying the “dangerous” Notting Hill Carnival should be moved and claiming there was a “problem with crime” in the black community.

Mr Phillip said the Conservative politician "obviously hasn't been coming around this community."

"This is the community's chance to celebrate."

"A lot of facts and figures are sometimes inflated, Carnival is a very safe event, stastically. It's very safe and our community should be able to celebrate their culture two days of the year."

Conservative candidate for Mayor of London, Susan Hall,= has previously hit out at the event
Conservative candidate for Mayor of London, Susan Hall, has previously hit out at the event. Picture: Alamy

When asked if her comments made her "unfit to be the Mayor of London, Mr Phillip said: "It doesn't bode well for knowing what communities want, just the attendance of Carnival show that it's something that Londoners want."

"It just goes to show what we see all the time, the total disconnect between some politicians and what's happening in real life."

When LBC asked if Susan Hall would be welcome to the Carnival this weekend, Mr Phillip said: "Absolutely, I'd like her to come and see what it does for people and how people are feeling at the event."

Forensics officers comb the scene in Ladbroke Grove, west London, where 21-year-old Takayo Nembhard, a rapper from Bristol, died after being stabbed on the final day of the Notting Hill Carnival
Forensics officers comb the scene in Ladbroke Grove, west London, where 21-year-old Takayo Nembhard, a rapper from Bristol, died after being stabbed on the final day of the Notting Hill Carnival. Picture: Alamy

As over two million people are expected to attend Notting Hill Carnival in London this bank holiday weekend, organisers have criticised the event's disproportionate association with crime in media coverage.

Notting Hill Carnival is a cultural celebration started over 55 years ago by Caribbean immigrants in the Notting Hill neighbourhood. It was created as a way for the Caribbean community to celebrate their roots and culture within their new neighbourhood away from home.

The carnival has since grown into a major multicultural event open to all. However, organisers believe the extensive media focus on crime unfairly overshadows the carnival's cultural significance.

Group of young people dancing  in the parade at Notting Hill Carnival
Group of young people dancing in the parade at Notting Hill Carnival. Picture: Alamy

Sue Hall, a Conservative member of the London Assembly, has stated on multiple occasions that the Notting Hill Carnival should be relocated from its longstanding location in the Notting Hill neighbourhood of London. The Carnival has been held in Notting Hill since 1966.

In 2020, Hall said that the event causes distress for local residents every year and questioned why it continues to be held in Notting Hill. She attended the Carnival in 2019 to observe the police operations and described the environment as "unbelievable" and potentially dangerous.

"I attended Notting Hill Carnival last year to understand the police operation," she said in a tweet in 2020.

"It was unbelievable, I don't think the public realise just how dangerous it can get. Astonishing that we should put our police in this position every year and the cost to the taxpayers is eye-watering."

When the Carnival returned in 2021 after being canceled in 2020 due to Covid-19, Hall again expressed concern about the demands on police officers and the risks they face at the event.

She also reiterated that the costs for policing are substantial.

She cited issues of safety for police, attendees, and residents as reasons for her view.

Crowds pack the streets for the event which runs over three days on thr August Bank Holiday weekend
Crowds pack the streets for the event which runs over three days on thr August Bank Holiday weekend. Picture: Alamy

Speaking to LBC's James O'Brien, the current Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan accused her of trying to spark a "crude culture war."

The Mayor said: "These issues should be discussed in a nuanced, sensible way, and I worry when politicians and leaders talk in soundbites to try and get a round of applause or to appeal to a certain audience.

"I'm also worried… about crude culture wars.

"I'm somebody who feels like a pawn in these crude culture wars often.

"It's for my Tory opponent to explain her comments… I will be at carnival this weekend."

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