MD2425 Notting Hill Carnival 2019, 2020 and 2021

Type of decision: 
Mayoral decision
Date signed: 
19 February 2019
Decision by: 
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

Executive summary

Notting Hill Carnival is one of London’s highest profile public events, attracting approximately a million visitors from across the capital, the UK and across the world. Most importantly, there is a huge sense of ownership of the event from local communities.

The scale and complexity in delivering this internationally renowned community-led event means collaboration with, and significant support from, multiple statutory agencies. In addition to these significant base requirements, the levels of support needed to deliver a safe and successful event have been further amplified by the increased attendance and the need to consider the security threat to major, high profile events. This need was reinforced by the recommendations that came from an independent crowd dynamic report commissioned by the Strategic Partners Group in 2017, which concluded that a robust but appropriate stewarding programme is vital to the safety and sustainability of this community event.

This MD seeks to approve a funding package of up to £710,000 annually for up to 3 years to support the steward training and community engagement programmes for Notting Hill Carnival in 2019, 2020 and 2021. This includes expanding a training programme for members of the Carnival community to enable them to work at Carnival as qualified stewards. Funding claims will be conditional on the meeting of key performance indicators. The funding is at the same level awarded in 2018.

A decision concerning the provision of funding for up to 3 years provides certainty for the programme and therefore allows for better planning and development of this important community engagement approach.


That the Mayor approves expenditure of up to:

1. £1.5m (£500,000 annually) as a contribution to the Carnival Village Trust’s costs for stewarding provision at Notting Hill Carnival for up to 3 years; and

2. £630,000 (£210,000 annually), as a contribution to the Carnival Village Trust costs of implementing a community steward training programme, including provision of expert stewarding advice on Notting Hill, for up to 3 years.

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

This decision form requests that the GLA allocates up to £2.13m over up to 3 years to provide support for Notting Hill Carnival’s stewarding and community engagement.

The GLA has powers and duties under the Greater London Authority Act 1999 (GLA Act) to promote wealth creation and economic and social development, improvement of the environment in, and promote tourism to and in Greater London. Events have a profound potential to bring economic and social benefits to the city, and major events can raise the city’s profile and present a positive image to the world’s media and potential visitors.

The Notting Hill Carnival has been staged in London over the August bank holiday weekend every year since 1965. It is a great celebration of Caribbean culture and one of London's highest profile public events, attracting people not only from across the capital, but the UK and overseas. It is Europe’s largest Carnival event and attracts approximately a million visitors over the weekend every year.

The artistic vision of Carnival is to foster the creative development and enhancement of diverse artistic excellence and to transform perceptions of Carnival culture locally, nationally and internationally. The event celebrates the history of Carnival, reflecting diverse artistic elements, cultural identity, heritage and community cohesion.

In addition to the weekend event, there is an associated programme of community-led work that runs throughout the year such as the Carnival Arts education projects. Combined, these programmes and events support the aforementioned duties held by the GLA.

Unlike many other large-scale events, Notting Hill Carnival has developed organically rather than being driven by a single group or individual. As such, the lines of responsibility and management have never been clearly established. This has necessitated a higher level of support from the local authorities and agencies to support the delivery of a safe event.

The event occurs across two London boroughs - the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC), which covers they majority of the event footprint, and Westminster City Council (WCC). Brent Council is on the periphery and also impacted.

Carnival is supported in the operational planning and delivery of the event by key statutory agencies which form the Operational Planning Safety Group (OPSG): Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC), Westminster City Council (WCC), Brent Council, Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), London Fire Brigade (LFB), Transport for London (TfL), National Health Service (NHS) and their partner, St John Ambulance (SJA).

There is also a Notting Hill Strategic Partners Group (SPG) to advise on strategic issues related to Carnival, in which senior members of Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), GLA, WCC, RBKC, TfL, MPS, Arts Council England, London Ambulance Service and the event organising body are represented.

Following the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower in June 2017, there was a resultant increase in tensions between the North Kensington community and wider public authorities. These tensions were particularly heightened with the specific local authority RBKC. Alongside the anger and mistrust, this tragedy also united the community and strengthened active engagement with Notting Hill Carnival, with the community expressing a desire for greater input into the event and its voice to be heard throughout the event planning.

After Carnival 2017, it became apparent through public consultations and direct communication from local groups with the relevant authorities that greater engagement was needed with the wider (and vast) Carnival community, and that they should have greater say in the planning process, which they believed was being denied them by the then organisers, London Notting Hill Carnival Enterprises Trust (LNHCET), and the public authorities. This call for change was particularly noteworthy in the light of the Grenfell fire.

RBKC’s previous funding agreement of £100,000 running from 2015 to 2017, was up for renewal in 2018. In addition, there followed a joint statement of the Strategic Partners Group on 8th September 2017, that “they must see real improvements for a safer Carnival in 2018, with an aspiration to see a more artistic event that continues to celebrate the important historical and cultural aspects of Carnival”.

Organisation of Carnival

In 2018, RBKC opened its core funding to a community bidding process, via a tender process, which engaged the SPG partners throughout, to support a community organiser for Carnival.

Carnival Village Trust (CVT) was successful in its bid for RBKC’s grant funding of £100,000 to support the delivery of Carnival in 2018. Given the complexity of Carnival, the new organising body faced significant challenges around creating a more cohesive event. To help facilitate this objective, they engaged with the previous individual arenas and brought them into the planning early on. These arenas are Carnival Arts and Masquerade Foundation (CAMF), Caribbean Music Association (CMA), British Association of Static Sites (BASS) and Association of British Calypsonians - although it should be noted that these relationships and further community relationships remain a challenge.

Since then, CVT has overseen a significant improvement in community consultation and engagement. Indeed, it has been widely acknowledged that the 2018 Carnival was one of the better managed in the event’s immediate history, with improved community engagement, better understanding of the organisers plans and improved crowd safety.

Post the event in 2018, RBKC re-issued a tender for a community event organiser, inviting submissions for the grant funding across 3 years. This process was transparent, carried out in an appropriate timeframe and contained 3 review stages to allow the cabinet at RBKC to conduct its evaluation and make an informed decision. The review panels that put forward recommendations comprised three stakeholder groups - ward Councillors, community representatives and the Notting Hill Strategic Partners Group (SPG). Together, they reached a unanimous decision and awarded the 3-year funding package to the Carnival Village Trust.

The GLA, alongside other Strategic Partners, is now seeking to align its own funding support over a period of up to 3 years to support a longer-term development and planning timeframe with more stability for the community organisers.

Crowd Safety

The sheer numbers of people attending the Notting Hill Carnival in a relatively small residential area necessitates a significant police and stewarding presence. The GLA has historically provided funding for stewarding at Carnival for over fifteen years to support the organisers, the community and the MPS to help improve safety at the event, and looks to continue with this support in 2019, 2020 and 2021 by way of a funding agreement with CVT.

Over recent years, and especially following NHC 2016, concerns were raised by key agencies regarding safety of the event due to crowding, including a review by the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee. As a result, the Strategic Partners Group commissioned an independent crowd dynamics review to make recommendations on improving crowd safety at the event. The appointed independent consultants Movement Strategies completed the review and made several recommendations for improvement in strategic areas over the next few years, including the community-led organisers being supported by professional event management and coordination. Movement Strategies also observed the 2017 event and were commissioned to make further recommendations to enhance the safety of carnival moving forwards.

Funding requested

To support these recommendations, approval is sought for the expenditure of up to £500,000 (annually for up to 3 years) to enable CVT to implement the stewarding provision at the event, in line with the recommendations of the crowd dynamics review. This stewarding provision also supports the MPS in ensuring the policing operation is focussed on public safety in the context of the threat level and on the prevention of crime and disorder. This is the same level of funding that was awarded in 2018.

Approval is also sought for up to £210,000 (annually for up to 3 years) to support CVT in running the community steward training programme and community engagement programme for the event. This is the same level of funding as 2018.

As the GLA is committed to increasing community engagement and cohesion at Carnival, and in response to community concerns that the community was not being given sufficient opportunity to be part of the stewarding of their Carnival, the GLA worked with CVT in 2018 to produce a local steward training programme, which was delivered by McKenzie Arnold (the previous stewarding company that delivered the stewarding contract at Carnival). The programme trained 110 stewards and was deemed an overall success. That said, there were a number of learnings, which CVT will look to address in future planning.

These interventions would continue to ease the pressure currently put on the MPS, allowing suitably trained and qualified community members to be more actively involved in the stewarding of the event.

As part of a procurement process to ensure value for money and integration of the community stewarding programme, CVT has put out an expression of interest to other stewarding firms to provide this service.

Objectives and expected outcomes

Supporting the stewarding provision at the event will help CVT deliver the crowd management plans produced to ensure a safer event and minimise the impact on agency services and local communities, as well as responding to community pressure seeking more engagement in this area. The GLA, through the Operational Planning Safety Group, will monitor the outcomes against the stewarding plan and an agreed set of deliverables.

The wider benefits of the event are:

• Increased positive global reputation of London;
• Positive profile for London, encouraging economic investment;
• Education and increased awareness of other communities in London, encouraging social integration and cohesion; and
• Increased skills through training, volunteering and employment opportunities.

Whilst difficult to measure, there are other additional benefits including:

• Increased sense of community through volunteering opportunities and social interaction at the event;
• Encouraging a sense of pride in Londoners for the city they live in; and
• Enjoyment and satisfaction to support the well-being of Londoners and improving their health and wellbeing and quality of life (particularly where Londoners’ disposable income is limited as free events offer access to the arts and entertainment, which they may otherwise not be able to experience).

Equality comments

Notting Hill Carnival is one of London’s largest cultural events, delivered primarily by London’s Black Caribbean and Black African communities. Community stakeholder groups are engaged in the planning and promotion of the event and ensure that it is appropriate and representative of the carnival community for which it promotes. As a BAME community and volunteer-delivered event that has international profile, there are limited resources to provide the infrastructure that an event of this scale requires. By providing this funding, the GLA is supporting its safe and successful delivery, both for the community, Londoners and the many national and international visitors who attend.

Whilst primarily delivered by London’s Black Caribbean and Black African communities, Notting Hill Carnival is a major international event that is inclusive and aimed at bringing people from different communities together to help foster good inter-community relations. This is achieved through the programme content, and the widespread media coverage and profile it receives. The preparation for Carnival involves many outreach programmes in music and arts education.

Other considerations

Key risks and issues

Whilst the GLA has no direct responsibility for public safety at Notting Hill Carnival, it is considered important that, where practicable, the GLA takes reasonable steps that assist event organisers of the event to mitigate against public safety risks in so far as is possible.

In its strategic role for London, the GLA supports Notting Hill Carnival, as a major event of significant benefit to the city, by providing funding to the organiser (CVT) to support its stewarding of, and thus public safety, at the event.

The GLA may have a level of influence on planning, in respect of the terms of its funding granted to CVT. To help discharge these duties the GLA attend the regular Operational, Safety, Planning Group meetings with the statutory authorities.

The provision of stewards is an essential element of Carnival crowd management, and without funding support, CVT would not be able, at this point, to appoint a stewarding contractor, and therefore would unable to implement the recommendations made in the independent crowd dynamics review. Additionally, there would be a greater reliance on the police to manage crowd safety at the event, and the statutory agencies would likely not be able to approve this important community event taking place.

Using new stewarding firms for the first time comes with inherent risks including not understanding the event, not knowing the footprint and concerns about their ability to deliver the required volume of stewards. GLA officers will work CVT to assist CVT to identify and take steps to mitigate such risks throughout the process.

The GLA’s financial support for this project is provided as grant funding and CVT will be required therefore, to meet certain agreed milestones and evidence their costs of the same before funding claims are paid each year.

Whilst there are undoubtedly benefits that would result from reducing the visible presence of policing at the event (and ultimately the public-sector cost), it is important that at this time of increased security risk, the policing resource remains appropriate and proportionate to the current threat levels.

There is a risk that CVT will be unable to generate income and similar funding requests will be made to the GLA and other partners in future years. However, increased funding for community stewarding helps to mitigate this, and also provides additional leverage in seeking increased commitments from other funders.

Mayoral Strategies and priorities

In approving this programme to support Notting Hill Carnival, it directly links to:

• City for all Londoners: Making London a fairer and more tolerant city open and accessible to all, and one in which we can all live and prosper free from prejudice. Enabling all Londoners to benefit from the city’s fantastic arts and culture.

• Culture Strategy: The Mayor will continue to fund festivals and events with an emphasis on more community involvement, increasing quality, raising profile and increasing volunteering.

• ‘All of Us’ - Strategy for Social Integration: using sport, volunteering, arts and culture as powerful tools for social integration; establishing London’s reputation as a welcoming city for newcomers from other parts of the UK and abroad, with opportunities to feel a strong connection and positive sense of belonging to the city in which they are living.

Impact and assessments

The impact and assessment of the event will be through the multi-agency planning process OSPG and other sub groups, whose members include WCC, RBKC, MPS, TfL, LAS, LFB, CVT, MOPAC and other key stakeholders. This is to ensure that the event is delivered safely and adheres to the regulations regarding Licencing, noise, crowd management and infrastructure.

The Strategic Partners Group provides strategic support for the event from RBKC, WCC, MPS, TfL, MOPAC, and GLA alongside the event organiser CVT.

CVT engages with the wider community and stakeholders to ensure that the community is represented from all generations. Public correspondence via the GLA Public Liaison Unit, WCC and RBKC and market research at the event is also considered for future planning of the event where comments and improvement suggestions are made and may be reasonably implemented.

Financial comments

The GLA is looking to enter into a three-year funding package with the ‘Carnival Village Trust’ to deliver the Notting Hall Carnival programme, which will be governed by a funding agreement. The proposed funding package is worth up to £2,130,000 for the three-years (£710,000 annually from 2019-20 to 2021-22).

The annual costs of £710,000 will be funded equally from the Events for London Programme budget and an annual drawdown from the Major Events Reserve (£355,000 each) from 2019-20 to 2021-22, subject to the Authority’s annual budget setting process.

In order for the GLA to be satisfied with the Carnival Village Trust’s capacity and financial status to successfully administer the proposed grant award, funding will be subject to satisfactory due diligence, checks on an annual basis and mitigations included in the funding agreement to protect the GLA’s financial investment in the programme.

Activity table



Announcement (funding package announcement)

February 2019

Agreeing KPIs and Milestone plans

March 2019

Monitoring of event planning and community engagement

April-Aug 2019

Event delivery

25, 26 August 2019

Debriefs and evaluation

Sept-Oct 2019

Funding Agreement review and revised KPIs and milestone plans

Oct-Dec 2019

Monitoring of event planning and community engagement

Jan-Aug 2020

Event delivery

30, 31 August 2020

Debriefs and evaluation

Sept-Oct 2020

Funding Agreement review and revised KPIs and milestone plans

Oct-Dec 2020

Monitoring of event planning and community engagement

Jan-Aug 2021

Event delivery

29, 30 August 2021

Debriefs and evaluation

Sept-Oct 2021

Review of funding agreement future planning

Oct-Dec 2021

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