12:25 | 18th April 2019

News: UK

Wed 23 Jun, 2010
By Sam Bristowe

I am deeply disappointed that we will be unable to put anything in Soho this year.

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Pride London forced to cancel Soho stage

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Pride London has been forced to take the difficult decision to cancel the Soho element of the event on 03 July 2010.  

Pride London has been in discussion with Westminster City Council, the Fire Brigade and other agencies for months regarding Soho, given concern over the Crossrail works in the area which block off Dean Street, Soho Street and Sutton Row to the north of Soho.

The event looked to be able to go ahead with additional conditions imposed on it up until this week.

However, the extension of road works into Oxford Street have led Westminster City Council and the London Fire Brigade to conclude that the lack of evacuation routes would make it unsafe to stage any major event in the area.

At a meeting earlier this week, further conditions around capacity were proposed, limiting the event to just 7,000 people, and removing any attractions from that area, including the market and street bars and proposing that Soho Square be limited to a ‘chill-out’ area.

The capacity was to be enforced with heavy-weight barriers, bag-searching and counting in and out of attendees.

Businesses in Soho are strongly opposed to any restriction that would reduce the number of customers visiting them.

A further proposal to manage a reduced street party in Soho was presented to local businesses this week.  

The cost to stage even a reduced event in Soho would be £40,000 and with the removal of the income generated by Pride London’s bars and stalls, the charity is unable to sustain this additional cost. At a meeting of Soho bars earlier this week it was proposed that the businesses contribute towards part of the direct costs of security, barriers and cleansing – which alone come to more than £20,000 - to keep the street party in Soho, with Pride London picking up the remaining costs for first aid, licensing, street closures and other items. With the notable exception of Ku Bar, businesses felt that they were unable to assist at such short notice.

The trustees of Pride London have therefore taken the difficult decision that an event in Soho is not currently viable. Pride London will not be running anything in Soho, and the streets are currently not planned to be closed for Pride.

The Dance Stage is being proposed to be moved to Leicester Square and other elements will be accommodated there and with the Trafalgar Square stage.

Paul Birrell, Chairman of Pride London commented:

"I am deeply disappointed that we will be unable to put anything in Soho this year. We have investigated every option with our colleagues at Westminster City Council but the extended roadworks are an insurmountable problem. We planned to put significant extra security into the area and as recently as two weeks ago, that looked to have got the green light, but even this proved not to be enough.

Restricting the crowd to just 7,000 people in an area that usually has the same capacity as Wembley Stadium would make for a very lonely party whilst alienating many local businesses. We do not feel it is fair to the businesses to stop their customers and even were we to attempt that, the cost of doing so is just astronomical and not something we can afford without some assistance. That we have only just had such a capacity put on the event makes it incredibly difficult for Pride London to mitigate this further. It has been a hard call but I believe we have taken the only decision we could. It would be fair to say I'm not a big fan of Crossrail at the moment."

Source: Pride London Press Release


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