The carnival must go on!

August 22, 2011, 7:29 PM GMT+0

More than two thirds of British people think that the Notting Hill Carnival should go ahead this year, our poll has found. Despite calls for Europe’s largest street festival to be cancelled in light of recent rioting throughout London and the rest of England, just one in five of our poll thought the 47-year-old event, scheduled to take place this weekend, should be called off this year – although we didn’t specifically mention the riots in the survey.

  • 69% of British people think that this year’s Notting Hill carnival should go ahead
  • Just 20% of people believe that the Notting Hill carnival should be cancelled
  • Support from Londoners is at the lowest percentage, with 58% saying the carnival should go ahead, compared to 73% of people in Scotland and 72% of people in the South outside London (although, as we didn’t specify that any cancellation would occur due to the riots, these Londoners could support cancellation for any number of other reasons).

The poll comes as organisers of the Notting Hill carnival continue to re-evaluate their plans for the festival in the wake of the riots which shocked London and other English cities earlier this month. The colourful west London street party, which prominently features many people from the West Indian community, is due to take place on the August Bank holiday weekend and organisers are making plans to ensure the safety of attendees.

Risk of trouble

Director of the carnival Ancil Barclay has said that plans include an early start and finish, and urging people to leave when it gets dark. He said: ‘What we are looking at is how we are going to treat the potential risk of trouble. One of the things we discussed was an earlier start time which will automatically mean an earlier finish.'

The carnival is no stranger to unrest – in 2000, two men were killed as a result of fighting, in 2004 a 27-year-old man was killed in a gang-related stabbing, and in 2009 a teenager was killed near the carnival route – however, the festival largely passes without incident most years.

‘We are looking at a 9am kick off [and] putting measures in place to ensure we can enforce that this year. I think it's an important step to ensure the safety of performers and spectators,’ Barclay said.