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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 August 2007, 23:29 GMT 00:29 UK
Far from the Notting Hill crowd
By Martin Edwards
BBC News, London

Crowds at this year's carnival
Carnival has been a feature of Notting Hill for over 40 years
Up to 800,000 revellers are expected to march through the streets of west London for this year's Notting Hill Carnival.

But Alice Marshall will not be one of them.

The 67-year-old who has lived on Westbourne Park Road in Ladbroke Grove, for the past 40 years is being whisked away to Folkestone in Kent, along with 39 other "older people", courtesy of Kensington & Chelsea Council.

The 15,000 scheme, now in its fourth year, is a lifeline for people like Mrs Marshall.

House vibrations

"Because we have carnival right on our doorstep, in the past, we just stood outside and watched the floats go by and it was really nice," she said.

"Floats and steel bands, that's all it was then. But it's got bigger and noisier as the years have gone by and as you get older you find that you can't tolerate the noise so much."

Along with her husband Darnley, Mrs Marshall has benefited from the scheme since it was first introduced in 2004.

Alice Marshall
Alice Marshall has lived in the Ladbroke Grove for 40 years
"We saw it advertised in the local paper so we rang up and put our names down," she said. "First year we went to Bognor Regis. It was alright. Anything would've been an improvement on staying at home that weekend."

The bank holiday weekend often makes her feel like a prisoner in her own home.

Residents' movements are restricted and they often need identification just to enter and leave their homes for crowd control purposes.

And then there are the vibrations.

"The sound systems are absolutely dreadful," she said. "The whole house vibrates. I'm a migraine sufferer and if I get a bad headache that weekend I have nowhere to escape to.

"It's not that we dislike the carnival, it's just that the noise element and volume of people is just too much for us now, especially as we're older now and can't cope with it."

'Massive party'

Noise was never an issue for Nick Tull.

Up until March this year, he lived in St Charles Square, off Ladbroke Grove, for 15 months.

As he said, he was "slap bang in the middle of carnival last year".

"It was a great experience," said the 28-year-old nightclub enthusiast. "I felt very safe. We had a massive party for two days.

"About 20 of my friends came over for a few drinks before going on the route."

Now an east London resident, he is less enthusiastic about to carnival this year.

People who live here have to embrace Carnival because it will bring good as well as bad in equal measure
Christian Cox, Notting Hill resident

"I won't be going," he said. "If you're an outsider coming into the area just for carnival, if the weather's horrible or anything happens then you're a long way from home and the Tube stations are usually shut."

Notting Hill resident Christian Cox is unabashed about his carnival loyalties.

"It's part of the fabric and people who live here have to embrace it because it will bring good as well as bad in equal measure," he said.

"Notting Hill itself is a real mix and carnival highlights that and there's not much friction here. Carnival is a good time to show that off."

Panorama in the Park

In recent years, there has been talk of changing the route following concerns from Mayor of London Ken Livingstone that the sheer volume of people attending was reaching dangerous levels.

A new event under the carnival umbrella, the Panorama in the Park in Hyde Park held on the Saturday, aims to help expand the reach of the Notting Hill Carnival.

But carnival organisers admit the look of the event could change over the next decade.

"More and more Londoners are coming so eventually because of its natural growth it will have to expand," said Roddy Crozier, a board director for the Notting Hill Carnival.

"In 10 years time there will be carnival-related activities all over London."

Changing face of carnival
27 Aug 05 |  London


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