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Monday, 20 November, 2000, 15:50 GMT
London New Year's party cancelled
Ken Livingstone on tube
Ken Livingstone has fallen out with tube bosses
A New Year's Eve fireworks display for London has been cancelled because of safety fears.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone said London Underground's reluctance to run tube services on New Year's Eve had forced him to cancel the event.

A Greater London Authority (GLA) spokeswoman said: "Safety concerns have meant that the event was no longer viable. Mr Livingstone has taken the very difficult decision to cancel."

Mr Livingstone has been outraged by the reluctance of tube bosses to run services because of fears of overcrowding on London Underground.

The police, faced with a 3m overtime bill, were also reluctant for the event to go ahead.

'Legalistic framework'

Mr Livingstone said he had been confronted by objections from the beginning: "If the transport had got sorted, people would then ask what would we do if an asteroid hit London.

"People were cautious and were working within a legalistic framework.

"The fact that this has now become a political football means sponsorship is even less likely to appear. It is best we make this decision now."

London Underground
London Underground was fearful of overcrowding on the tubes

Last year's millennium fireworks celebration along the River Thames was a triumph, but the police said its success masked how close the event had come to disaster because of overcrowding.

The GLA first announced it was seeking to repeat last year's fireworks extravaganza in June. Sir Bob Geldof's company, Ten Alps, was again appointed to oversee the event.

The fireworks were to be co-ordinated by Syd Howard, who was responsible for Sydney's successful millennium and Olympic firework displays.

The display, using some of London's best known landmarks, was going to be similiar to last year's, but it was due to end at 7pm, with a small 'Midnight moment' to welcome in 2001.

New Year's Eve celebrations
There will be no repeat of last year's New Year's Eve celebrations

Tube bosses objected and they were backed by the Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott even though the mayor offered to put the fireworks back to 5pm.

London Underground eventually relented but the police still objected and the main sponsor, Yahoo, also got cold feet.

Sir Bob Geldof said the cancellation was the result of a 'can't do' culture.

"It is scandalous that London will not have a New Year's Eve celebration," he said.

"The rail companies must take a huge part of the blame for this.

"I've organised major events all over the world, but I have never come against the inability to get things done as I have done for this."

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See also:

15 Nov 00 | UK Politics
London party 'in disarray'
22 Jun 00 | Entertainment
Geldof plans London 2001 party
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