Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Carnival

The last meeting of the ward committee heard that it is proposed that the Birmingham International Carnival be held in Perry Barr Park on August 2nd this year.

Ward councillors have asked in the past for better consultation about the event, which could be a great event but usually poses big organisational headaches and provokes a lot of complaints from local residents.

Karen Hamilton was able to attend the last meeting of the city council's planning group. However we were dismayed to learn that the carnival committee has stated it will not have a Perry Barr ward councillor on its committee.

Our inquiries suggest the event is by no means guaranteed. For a start the council has not agreed its grant and is unlikely to until it is satisfied the organisation of the carnival is up to scratch.

Secondly the carnival needs a specific licence from the licensing committee to operate. Last time it breached its noise limits big time and we had a lot of complaints from some roads. We would hope the committee would require cast iron guarantees that noise will be controlled ie by limiting the number of sound systems on site.

In general this should be a cause for celebration and could be a great community event. The carnival procession is always magnificent. So why do the ward councillors receive the news with dread? Because something always goes wrong.

In 2007 the Carnival was held on a blistering hot day and attracted record crowds. That put pressure on the local roads but in truth quite a few problems were caused by simple human error. Each time we work with the organisers to put these errors right - and each time something else happens!

Last time there were problems with parking, noise and non-delivery of resident passes.

Starting with noise, in the Perry Villa Estate this reached 85 decibels which is about 25dbs more than the acceptable limt. So we're pressing for two things this year; 1/ to move the funfair away from the built up side of the park 2/ to limit the sound systems to the two mainstages. We do not believe the private DJ systems that come with the Carnival are acceptable. Last time speakers were pointed across the valley and blasted the Beeches estate for a period of up to six hours causing a raft of complaints from families in Curbar Road and beyond.

2/ Parking. Something very simple went wrong last time. A parking area was designated in Perry Hall Park. Stewards turned up and found a cricket match being played on the area - in spite of the fact that we had asked organisers to check cricket was cancelled. The stewards didn't consult anyone and closed the car park, just as the roads were closed for the procession. Chaos!! There was in fact still plenty of space in the park but nobody had told the stewards they could use it. It was Jon Hunt who went down with department manager Kevin Brown and found out what had happened and got the car park reopened. But by that time hundreds of cars had parked in semi-legal locations around Perry Barr and Great Barr.

The truth is that getting previous problems sorted is relatively easy. Anticipating what will go wrong this time is much harder. For years weve been asking about the quality of stewarding - proper briefings and good communication could make a real difference, as could ensuring that officials pay attention when they are told about problems on the day.

No comments: