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Carnival under threat

CONCERNS: Six months until Europe’s biggest street party, but who is organising it?

NOTTING HILL Carnival is facing the biggest crisis in its history following the resignation of two key organisers, according to one of its former chiefs.

With less than six months to go until Europe’s largest street party, the event is currently without an official management committee or a major sponsor to help offset its £500,000 price tag.

It is now left to the five ‘arts arenas’ – the mas, calypso, steel bands, static sound systems and mobile sound systems – to come together to ensure the two-day celebration happens.

The different strands are currently in the process of setting up an interim board – the Carnival Steering Group Collaboration Agreement - but time is fast running out.

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is also working closely with the five arenas to "help ensure a smooth transition", a council spokesman said.

Ansel Wong, a founding member of the now-defunct Notting Hill Carnival Trust, said: “Following the resignation of Ancil Barclay and Chris Boothman, there is no management board. It’s currently in hiatus while it’s being reviewed and reconstructed.

“Carnival will go ahead this year because the five arts arenas are determined, but in the long-term its future is under threat. It could end up in the control of public bodies and all community involvement will go out the window. Without a management committee, the development of carnival beyond 2012 is seriously hindered.”

Barclay and Boothman resigned in September 2011 over a chronic lack of funding and infighting. Barclay said: “Each year we have a spectacular display but behind the scenes it is dysfunctional to the core.”

Josephine Scorer, who chairs the Notting Hill Carnival Advisory Board, previously stated the carnival would continue as normal despite the resignations.

When The Voice visited official website the ‘Our Team’ section was left blank and there were no contact details other than a general email address.

Claire Holder, a former chief executive who oversaw a successful 12-year run of the carnival, said: “I have heard that there is no management board, but the beautiful thing about carnival is that it somehow finds a way to organise itself.

“The problem with carnival is never funding, it’s always politics. It is time for people to put their differences aside.”

In a statement, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea said: "Not only do we provide direct financial support to the event, we facilitate the event in many other ways.

"The council draws together the organisers and other agencies to help ensure that a proper plan is in place and, amongst many other things, it regulates street traders and sound systems, organises health and safety training, provides toilet facilities and looks after traffic management."

It added: "Our special events team communicates on a daily basis with the many elements that make up carnival, and the dialogue is constant and open."

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