Scrapping Isle of Dogs' Kids Karnival blamed on Tower Hamlets 'red tape'
PUBLISHED: 13:37 28 July 2016 | UPDATED: 13:53 28 July 2016
Hundreds of children face disappointment with the sudden cancellation this week of East London's famous 'Kids Karnival' which organisers blamed on "town hall red tape".
The organisers have slammed local authority bureaucracy for having to scrap Saturday’s event on the Isle of Dogs in a row about tolilets for the children.
Now the Mayor of Tower Hamlets has been drawn into the row after being alerted on Monday by the East London Advertiser that Kids Karnival was no longer taking place at Island Gardens in Cubitt Town, opposite Greenwich and the Cutty Sark.
Friends of Island Gardens chairman Eric Pemberton blamed overbearing demands during months of failed negotiations.
“Demands of Tower Hamlets officials have forces us to cancel the Kids Karnival,” he told the paper. “Our professional event organiser could not cope with the Arts & Events department and felt they were disorganised and inefficient.”
The Friends group says it got the go-ahead for the event earlier this year, but couldn’t plough through the endless demands.
Any concerns “should have been made months ago”, it insists.
The first “challenge” was over temporary toilets for the large numbers of children that were to be expected on Saturday. The council provided them in previous years, but this time told organisers to hire and pay for them themselves.
The first that mayor John Biggs heard about the Kids Karnival row was when the Advertiser warned him on Monday.
He said: “I’m not aware of the event being cancelled—I’d like to see it happening. I will get to the bottom of this.”
The council later blamed the organisers for cancelling it after giving Friends of Island Gardens “extensive support over months”.
A Town Hall statement yesterday insisted: “We have always been clear that every event in our parks must comply with health and safety standards. All events organisers have an obligation to comply with statutory legislation to ensure public safety.
“Unfortunately, despite our support, the organisers decided not to go ahead with their event.”
The mayor put the onus for public safety squarely on the organisers. He claimed: “Requirements aren’t that onerous—so it shouldn’t be beyond the wit of Man for this to happen.”
The Kids Karnival may have been overlooked because of bigger events, he revealed, such as the huge Mela festival being staged the next day at Bethnal Green’s Weavers Fields.
Nevertheless, Saturday’s cancellation is a sad day for the Friends of Island Gardens, which only last summer commemorated 120 years of the park with a community fair and plaque unveiling in memory of Will Crooks, the Mayor of Poplar and later MP who fought hard in 1895 to get the public open space laid out.