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BLUNKETT STEPS INTO CARNIVAL ROW

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Home secretary David Blunkett is poised to intervene in a row over serious risks of overcrowding at this month's No...
Home secretary David Blunkett is poised to intervene in a row over serious risks of overcrowding at this month's Notting Hill carnival, reported The Independent on Sunday (p2).

Home office officials confirmed at the weekend that ministers would 'assist where necessary' following a long-running dispute between the organisers and Kensington and Chelsea LBC over safety arrangements.

The Notting Hill Carnival Trust last week reached its target of recruiting 600 to help control the crowds, but is arguing with the council over the licensing of the 60 bands in the carnival parade. The trust and bandleaders refuse to accept the council's demands for their full names and home addresses on privacy grounds. The council claims it could be forced to withhold their licences, which could lead to the parade being cancelled.

The dispute is set to escalate further this week. Council leader Merrick Cockell said he would warn home office minister Robert Ainsworth and the Metropolitan Police at a private meeting on Tuesday that he still has serious concerns over safety at this year's event. He will warn visitors and children to stay away unless he receives assurances in the next 48 hours that stewards would be properly trained and equipped..

Claire Holder, chief executive of the carnival trust, accused the council of deliberately wrecking the event by scaring off sponsors for the live stages, such as MTV and BBC Radio 1, and imposing unnecessary licensing demands. She said Mr Cockell's complaints were 'petty' and exaggerated, since it ignored the trust's own band registration system.

In a rare show of unity, the carnival trust, the local council, police and the Greater London Authority all want central government funding and ministerial support for a new, longer route through to Hyde Park and a complete overhaul of the carnival's management.

Also see LGCnet'COUNCIL'S SAFETY FEARS OVER NOTTING HILL CARNIVAL'

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