Notting Hill’s mas and steel bands face ID checks, security inspections of trucks and stringent entry and exit restrictions this year.
A circular issued by event manager Street Event Co (SEC) reveals that vehicles will only be able to access the route from Harrow Road, either into Ladbroke Grove or into Great Western Road. Likely to be just as challenging is the requirement that all vehicles must be through the checkpoints by 08.30 on Sunday and Monday. No vehicle will be allowed into the Carnival Zone after this time.
Drivers must carry their driving licence at all times. On entering the Carnival Zone, police will check the licence and issue a unique ID pass that must be signed for and worn at all times. The driver will then be told to park at a designated spot. Police have said they will pick out some vehicles at random for detailed searches.
Masqueraders, pan players, band stewards and other followers will enter the zone on foot to join their vehicle/s. Each band will be told to move off from a specific location at a set time, from 10.00 onwards.
Each band will be accompanied by a steward, and about 20 to 30 bands will be allocated a police officer. Any non-essential support vehicles can be kept off the route in a secure parking area.
Departure from the route will be from one of three exits from Ladbroke Grove: south on to Holland Park Road, west on to Bassett Road and north on to Harrow Road. The aim is to remove all carnivalists from Ladbroke Grove before darkness falls, as “it is a high crime area”, according to SEC. If rigorously enforced this will mean that mas bands and steelbands will be taken off the route before the static sound systems are switched off.
The justification for the restrictions is the threat of a terrorist truck attack. However, some observers have told Soca News that they suspect the underlying aim is to prepare the event for conversion from a free, public street carnival into a privately run ticketed music festival.
SEC’s claim that Ladbroke Grove is a high crime area is especially interesting, as the Metropolitan Police has consistently refused to respond to journalists’ Freedom of Information Act requests for information about where alleged crimes have been committed within the Carnival Zone, saying either that it does not possess this information or it would be too time-consuming to provide.
By Stephen Spark