Nothing is sacred, nothing can't be put up for sale. If you want to go the Notting Hill Carnival next year, you may need to buy a ticket.
Carnival has been celebrating Afro-Caribbean life and culture for over 50 years in Europe's biggest street party. But a party that big needs lots of policing, and the Evening Standard reports Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe is warning budget cuts may affect the level of police support, and that partygoers' safety might not be guaranteed. Carnival costs the police £7m, City Hall £138,000 and Kensington and Chelsea Council £500,000.
Kensington's MP, Victoria Borwick, is surveying local residents for their views on Carnival, and asking whether they'd consider ticketing the event and moving the dates from Sunday and Monday to Saturday and Sunday. Kensington and Chelsea is also consulting residents, but doesn't mention the possibility of ticketing. The ES quotes Borwick saying
[The Carnival community] don’t really want to see any changes but we’ve got to be realistic, this is not the Carnival we had 10 or even five years ago. We want it to be a fun family occasion, celebrating the music and the culture, not somewhere people tell terrible stories about crime.
It's true that 2015 saw a rise in arrests, but that's got to be seen in context of a London-wide rise in knife crime. In the aftermath, both Hogan-Howe and Boris Johnson criticised Carnival's organisation, though the Commissioner also appeared to place some blame on financial constraints back then.
The fear, of course, is that ticketing will price out some of the very people that Carnival is meant to celebrate. And, much like the New Year's Eve fireworks which now cost £10, it's a sign of a worrying trend where things that used to be fun for everyone are becoming restricted to those who can pay.