London: Calls to replace Pride organisers for 2013
While a last minute meeting takes place at City Hall to see if it is possible to save parts of London’s WorldPride event this weekend, calls have been made to hand the organisation of the event on to a new body in future.
PinkNews.co.uk understands that the Mayor of London Boris Johnson is unlikely to attend WorldPride, though this has not yet been confirmed by the Mayor’s office.
The event was scaled back after a funding “shortfall” last week. Floats and cars have been barred from the parade which was due to start at 1pm.
With an earlier start of 11am announced only a week before the event, fears about the impact on travel plans and the huge influx of people into the capital without clear directions as to where they should go were raised by many. Questions of accessibility for older and disabled attendees have been raised.
A stage event in Trafalgar Square will continue with £100,000 of funding from the Mayor of London, but must now finish by 6pm. All official Pride events in Soho have been cancelled.
Soho businessmen Gary Henshaw of Ku Bar, and Jeremy Joseph of G.A.Y said in online statements this weekend that they wanted to help rebuild Pride for 2012 but “this cannot happen unless the members of this year’s Pride Committee accept their responsibility and resign now. Then, and only then, can work start by the community to rebuild London Pride for a strong and financially stable future”.
Organisers have resisted the call as the event is now so close.
LGBT Labour said Pride needed “the practical support of community groups, sponsors, and the relevant authorities”.
In an open letter to Conservative Mayor of London Boris Johnson, the group wrote: “We urge you to use your power as Mayor to get Westminster City Council back to the table with the organisers of London Pride and sort this out. We understand sponsors are willing to come forward and close the financial gap. Now we need political will to get the procession back on track.”
PinkNews.co.uk understands that a last-minute meeting was to be held today with two sponsors at City Hall aiming to rescue parts of the event, but outcomes have not yet been revealed.
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Meanwhile, the founders of a new group, PrideTrust.com, which is being supported by PinkNews.co.uk, are calling for a public meeting to discuss the future of Pride in London.
A spokesman said: “Pride belongs to LGBT people, our supporters and friends. We deserve better than this, and we can do better than this. We need a Pride for London that involves LGBT communities – including community and campaigning groups of every kind, LGBT charities, trade unions, campaigning and student groups, commercial venues, and the LGBT media all need to be involved.”.
PrideTrust.com is critical of the lack of apology from Pride London organisers, noting the costs that will have to be written off by charities and individuals alike.
The group calls for a new approach to Pride in London, which “doesn’t rely on the campaigning and right to assembly being determined by commercial viability”.
They say: “We need elected officials and public bodies to play their part. London Mayor Boris Johnson and the GLA should ensure core funding is in place for the event to enable this. It is our belief that the additional income to both London and its businesses from a vibrant Pride far outweighs these costs, and Prides from around the global such as Sydney and Tel-Aviv demonstrate this. Theresa May, Home Secretary, and Minister for Equality, identified this year the UK LGBT market was worth in excess of £70bn.
“Pride organisers currently have to pay for policing, and pay more if the parade includes floats.
“We have a right to organise a Pride without having to pay the authorities, in fact it is our belief that a Pride event in London is of such cultural and economic significance that is within the interests of the GLA to ensure it occurs.
“Similar community events such as Notting Hill Carnival, which attract similar amounts of attendees, receive grants of £250,000 from the Greater London Authority.”