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Last Updated: Saturday, 1 October 2005, 13:53 GMT 14:53 UK
Crowds enjoy Oxford Street party
Performers in Oxford Street
Performers entertain the crowds in Oxford Street
Thousands of people have flocked to a free party in Oxford Street.

The famous shopping street was closed to traffic for the event which was aimed at attracting shoppers back to the area after the July bombings.

Singer Charlotte Church and several other performers have been entertaining the crowds.

Mayor Ken Livingstone said it was the first time Oxford Street had been closed to traffic and wanted to ensure shops benefit from it.

He said: "I am delighted we are getting people back in London and getting the damage that was done in July overturned.

"This is the safest city in the world and we will be doing many more events like this over the weeks and months to come, most of them for free," Mr Livingstone said.

'Greatest shopping place'

Pop acts Charlotte Church, Rachel Stevens and liberty X performed on the main stage set up between the House of Fraser and John Lewis stores.

Stores staged giveaways with a 1,000 prize up for grabs every hour.

Women dressed as Geishas

Westminster Council leader Simon Milton said: "The West End is the greatest shopping place on earth.

"It's not like this everyday sadly, we are trying to bring more people back into the West End, that's what today is all about."

Mr Milton also said that they had written to the government asking for business rates to be temporarily relaxed to allow firms to "regroup".

"It's very important that we help them because we need central London to stay strong."

But he was confident shoppers would return.

"Make no mistake, London will bounce back, today you see thousands of people who've come here to enjoy themselves, what we have to do is keep that spirit going week after week."

In the week after the July bombings visitors to the West End, and sales, fell.

The idea for a party came from Marks & Spencer boss Stuart Rose with the backing of business rival Philip Green, director of Bhs and Arcadia Group.

In pictures: Oxford Street party
01 Oct 05 |  In Pictures
Oxford Street gets set to party
14 Sep 05 |  London
West End recovers after attacks
04 Aug 05 |  Entertainment

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