Carnival – how was it for you?

My bank holiday weekend was spent at the Notting Hill Carnival which I suppose is only fair; after all scores of council officers and contractors were on duty too, indeed many of them haven’t had an August bank holiday to themselves for years on account of Carnival.

I would like to thank them for that service. Local residents and the success of Carnival itself depends on it.

Then, there’s the massive clean-up operation of course which this year picked up some 225 tonnes of rubbish If you saw the state of the streets at midnight on bank holiday Monday you would know that it is something of a minor miracle that we manage to have them open again for the Tuesday morning traffic. But, clearly, with such a vast task we won’t get everything spruced up as quickly as some would want and so let me know how and where you think we can improve.

As well as our brilliant cleansing team, we also have noise and nuisance staff up in Notting Hill trying to make sure people still have some hearing left by the time the music is switched off. We have trading standards specialists there too who aim to make sure that only licensed, responsible people are trading and that what they are selling is safe and legal. And we have a food safety team on duty as well and to them I want to give what I believe is known as – a big shout out – because on Monday morning they seized a barrel of meat that was about to go on sale which, had it been consumed by innocent Carnival goers, would have at best, caused sales of Imodium to rocket but at worst might have caused some very serious illness indeed.

All in all I have to say that I enjoyed this year’s Carnival. Of course things feel a bit edgier after dark but that’s the case wherever young men gather in numbers having had a bit to drink. However, the fact is that crime this year was very low indeed, relative to the number of people in attendance which tops one million over the two days.

But it’s the daylight hours I want to focus on. Walking around the route I couldn’t help but be struck by the sheer friendliness of Carnival 2013. People of all ages, races and walks of life brought into close proximity yet seemingly entirely comfortable with one another. It seemed a world away from the stresses and suspicions which dominated Notting Hill in the 1950s as described in Alan Johnson’s recollections of his childhood here in This Boy

Next year will be the event’s Golden Jubilee. Hopefully it will be the best ever.