Every year at Notting Hill Carnival, you’ll see happy punters bopping along to the low-slung peace-and-love grooves at Channel One Sound System in Westbourne Park Road. Except this year, maybe you won’t.
Of the 38 soundsystems that make up the annual August bank holiday festivities, six are in Westminster and the rest in Kensington and Chelsea. For the 2014 Carnival, Westminster Council have decided that due to their large crowds, three of the soundsystems – Channel One, Sir Lloyd and Killawatt – can’t apply for their usual temporary licences, but will need a licence of the kind required by permanent venues. To be granted one, you must publicise your application via a local newspaper, allowing people to complain to the licensing authority to stop a licence being granted.
‘There have been all these objections from the residents,’ says Mikey Dread, who has run Channel One Sound System on the corner of Westbourne Park Road and Leamington Road Villas for 20 years. ‘But we didn’t know people could [also] submit messages of support. Now there’s a hearing to see if we can even play.’
Five thousand people have signed a petition backing Channel One, which has previously run workshops in schools for Black Music Month. Supportive messages include: ‘The essence of Notting Hill Carnival is being eroded year after year’ and, ‘Seriously, council? You want to forbid one of Carnival’s most peaceful soundsystems from playing?’.
The council says: ‘Everyone can be assured that any decisions will take into account the interests of those attending the Carnival, those working there and people who live in Notting Hill.’ Which sounds rather like it was delivered from atop a fence. Here’s hoping that this isn’t Westminster Council starting to put the ‘not’ in ‘Notting Hill Carnival’.
Sign Channel One’s petition at change.org/petitions now.