Major shake-up could see Pride in London moved from Trafalgar Square

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Pride in London could face a major shake-up, under recommendations from its advisory board.

A report was released today in the wake of London’s Pride event last month. The report, from Pride in London’s Independent Community Advisory Board (CAB) also sets out a vision for the future of the capital’s LGBT+ Pride – and it includes some major changes.

Most significantly, the report calls for the parade route to be completely revised and the main Pride event moved out of the city centre, due to the chronic overcrowding and capacity issues.

For a number of years the Pride parade has headed through the city centre to Trafalgar Square, where the main event stage has been for more than a decade.

Photo by Moyna Talcer
Photo by Moyna Talcer

However, the area struggles to accommodate even a portion of those attending the festival, while nearby streets become overcrowded.

The report says: “Once again, there was a noticeable scramble at the end of the Parade of participants attempting to return to Trafalgar Square. It is fortunate that nobody suffered any serious injuries this year, but that may have been more by luck than judgement.

“If the current Parade route is used again with the main entertainment space being in Trafalgar Square, the Parade needs to end in a way that people can
return down a different signposted street to gain access to the Square.”

But under bold proposals from the CAB, the ultimate solution could be to relocate the event entirely – reversing the parade and marching to Hyde Park, where a Pride festival could take place without such strict capacity restrictions.

However, it continues : “We continue to believe that the best solution to the current overcrowding is for the Parade to begin on the Embankment, travelling via Parliament Square, Whitehall, Trafalgar Square, and ending in Hyde Park, representing a unique opportunity to launch an international Pride Festival Day in the heart of London.

“The arts are sorely lacking from the current Pride day format and a Pride Festival Day in Hyde Park would enable Pride to showcase London’s LGBT+ artistic and creative talent, whilst celebrating equality and diversity.

“Other parks and commons have also been suggested, but the symbolism of Hyde Park’s LGBT+ history, its location in the capital’s epicentre within a natural walking distance from the parade itself, and its capacity to absorb growing numbers, makes for a compelling argument that it should be considered for 2018 and beyond.

“The CAB therefore recommends that the Mayor negotiate with the Royal Parks and their entertainment licensee, AEG, to permit Pride to use Hyde Park, including AEG’s festival facilities, for the Pride Festival Day in future years.”

The future of the current iteration of Pride in London is also in doubt, as a five-year funding agreement with the Mayor of London has expired.

The current Mayor of London Sadiq Khan – a strong supporter of Pride who marches at the event every year – has not yet laid out plans for the future of the agreement.

The CAB called for a major shake-up from 2018 onwards, which would see the Mayor bring responsiblity for the event ‘in house’ and licensed out to community groups.

It says: “2017 marks the end of the Mayor of London’s current five-year grant agreement with LLCP to organise the Pride in London events and we are sure that the Officers of the Greater London Authority will be considering arrangements for Pride in future years to make recommendations to the Mayor.

“In considering how Pride in London should be organised in future, and in light of some of the challenges faced by the current and former Pride organisers, the CAB recommends that the Mayor should become the proprietor of the registered trademarks and other intellectual property rights to London LGBT+ Pride and licence, after a competitive tender process, the organisation of the Pride events on a five-year contract, to which should be attached a range of key performance indicators, including on diversity and inclusion.

“An alternative model might be vesting Pride’s IP rights and the commissioning function in an independent charity or indeed with the CAB itself, but that wouldn’t necessarily have the public and legal accountability of having the Mayor as the licensing authority.

“The Pride licensee would then be monitored by the Greater London Authority and by the Independent Community Advisory Board on behalf of London’s LGBT+ communities against those key performance indicators, and held accountable for the running of the event and use of public funds.”

A spokesperson for the Mayor in London told PinkNews: “Pride in London is one of the iconic festivals of our city and underlines our reputation as one of the most LGBT+ friendly places on the planet.

“It is central to London’s position as a beacon of inclusiveness and acceptance as well as being one of the top gems in our city’s cultural calendar. Above all, it shows that London is open to all people, regardless of background, religion, race, gender, disability, age or sexuality.

“Ensuring that all members of the LGBT+ community feel safe, happy and valued is of the upmost importance to the Mayor. As is the case with all Mayor-supported events, City Hall is working with Pride in London to ensure that diversity is placed at the heart of the festivities.

“Pride In London is entirely staffed and delivered by volunteers from the LGBT+ community who give up large proportions of their free time to deliver one of the biggest Pride celebrations in the world.

“This year’s Pride in London was the biggest to date, with more than 60 events over Pride fortnight and a parade which featured 81 floats, 231 walking groups and over a million spectators to cheer them on.

“City Hall is working to put in place a new funding agreement with Pride in London, which will ensure that next year’s festival is bigger, better and more inclusive than ever.”

A spokesperson for Pride in London strongly hit back at the report, which also alleges that Pride in London bosses ‘refused to meet’ with Black Pride organisers.

The spokesperson said: “Feedback on Pride in London is important to us, but we prefer for it to be accurate.

“We deliberately gather feedback from many sources, including our volunteers and the wider community through open meetings, surveys and online reporting. We do not believe the CAB report reflects the majority view nor takes in to account these other sources of data, it is also inaccurate in many places which is disrespectful to the many volunteers that work hard to deliver the event. The report was not shared with us in advance and therefore we were not able to correct these inaccuracies. We will be looking at each of the points they raise and we have invited them to meet with us. Unfortunately the CAB has suffered from some long standing vacancies (such as a women’s rep), which has adversely affected its ability to provide us with consistently strong and balanced guidance.

“Volunteers make Pride happen and it is their passion and commitment to the Pride cause that drives real change on the ground. Whilst there are always ways in which we can improve, our volunteers can feel proud to be delivering an event with consistently high levels of attendee satisfaction.

“Since the collapse of London’s Pride event in 2012; under community ownership, Pride in London has become one of the world’s largest and most successful Pride events. It remains volunteer-led and free to attend and enjoys strong support from agencies, partners and sponsors. Diversity and inclusion is at the core of all we do, from deciding on acts to perform, to volunteer recruitment but we are not complacent and are always looking at ways to do more. We believe we now have a strong foundation to continue to make progress in improving on diversity and inclusion amongst other issues.

“Already this year, we were able to represent our community in new ways through our Pride in London Live series reaching millions through social platforms, our largest and most diverse Pride Festival and Parade, and our first ever national TV adverts reaching millions of UK homes. We are also proud to have achieved Silver Accreditation from Attitude is Everything which recognises the standards of accessibility of the main event.

“We’re looking forward to announcing our vision and plan for the next 5 years of Pride in London. The LGBTQ+, community will remain at the heart of everything we do and we constantly strive to do better at representing and supporting it.”