Notting Hill Carnival: MP in relocation call after Grenfell blaze

Revellers line the streets on the first day of the Notting Hill Carnival Image copyright DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS
Image caption Minister for London Greg Hands has called for the Notting Hill Carnival to be moved away from the shadow of the Grenfell Tower

This year's Notting Hill Carnival should be moved following the Grenfell Tower fire, a minister says.

Minister for London Greg Hands has questioned whether it was "appropriate" to stage a carnival near the site of a "national disaster".

But London's mayor, Sadiq Khan, has rejected the call.

And Pepe Francis, one of the carnival's organisers, said this year's event will "offer respect and solidarity" to the Grenfell Tower victims.

In a letter Mr Hands, the MP for nearby Chelsea and Fulham, urged the mayor to consider moving it "given the recent tragic events in the area".

The event "clearly" must go ahead but "we have to ask ourselves if it is appropriate to stage a carnival in the near proximity of a major national disaster", he explained.

Image copyright TOLGA AKMEN
Image caption The route for the Notting Hill Carnival passes within 500m (546yds) of Grenfell Tower.

More than a million people are expected to descend on the streets of west London to take part in the 51st annual street festival.

The carnival route passes within 500m (546yds) of Grenfell Tower, where toilets and amenities have been provided in previous years.

Mr Francis, the chair of London Notting Hill Carnival Enterprises Trust, said: "The blackened marker of Grenfell Tower casts a dark shadow over the joy and celebration of Carnival.

"We do not pretend to provide solace. But we can, and will, offer respect and solidarity."

Image copyright @GregHands
Image caption In a letter, Greg Hands called for the Greater London Authority (GLA) to take a greater role in running the event

Mr Hands also stressed the Greater London Authority (GLA) should take a greater role in running the event.

"I would like you to consider moving the location and the GLA, with its experience of running major events, taking over the carnival, in conjunction with the current organisers," he said.

Image copyright Gary Lee
Image caption Minister for London Greg Hands said the event "clearly must go ahead"

However, a spokesman for Mr Khan said the festival "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".

"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" he said.

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