POLITICS

Notting Hill Carnival Outrage As Minister For London Accused Of 'Using Grenfell' To Move Festival

'How dare you! Keep your hands off our carnival.'

07/07/2017 13:02 BST | Updated 07/07/2017 13:06 BST
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Minister for London Greg Hands thinks Notting Hill Carnival should be moved

Minister for London Greg Hands stands accused of “using the Grenfell tragedy” to try and shift the Notting Hill Carnival out of west London. 

Hands has faced a backlash on social media after writing to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan asking for the street festival to be moved to a park.

The Tory MP for Chelsea and Fulham questioned whether it was “appropriate” for the celebration to be held “in the near proximity of a major national disaster”. 

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Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has refused to agree to the move

Khan rejected the proposal, saying it should take place in the streets where it was founded as he warned Hands against “damaging community relations”.

A long-running campaign led by west London residents and businesses has demanded for the festival to be held elsewhere to avoid disruption.  

Hands now been accused of using the blaze to further the argument. 

Rapper Stormzy led criticism, claiming Hands was leaning on the tragedy to further a ”‘get rid of the carnival’ agenda”. 

Hands wrote to khan: “The carnival is an important and symbolic celebration in our capital’s calendar, and one greatly valued and enjoyed by both Londoners and visitors alike. 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.”

The 51st festival is due to take place over August Bank Holiday weekend and is expected to attract around two million people. 

A spokesperson for Khan said: “The Notting Hill Carnival is one of the world’s biggest street festivals and has become a firm London tradition over many decades.

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Rapper Stormzy called hands a "scumbag"

“It 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.”

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The 51st Notting Hill Carnival is due to go ahead on August Bank Holiday weekend

Four people were stabbed and 45 police officers injured during last year’s carnival, where more than 450 were arrested. 

But festival organisers say the colourful celebration will brighten the mood of the city in the aftermath of the inferno. 

Sonny Blacks, who served on the original carnival committee in 1968 told the Evening Standard: “Undoubtedly it will go ahead. It will brighten up the whole gloom that is over London, and we need that.

“People are distressed to talk about it in full, and our thoughts are not there yet. But time is going to be running, and we hope everything will go well. We’ve got to be positive.”