London mayor’s chief of staff admits they almost pulled out of 2012 gay festival. Community-based group likely to win bid to run pride until 2017
Mayor Boris Johnson considered pulling out of supporting London’s World Pride event altogether when it became clear organizers were struggling.
The World Pride LGBT festival in the UK capital in 2012 became a major headache for City Hall when it had to be drastically scaled back with just 10 days to go.
A funding shortfall and other organizational problems saw the event scaled back with floats and other vehicles banned from the march.
A street party in the Soho gay district was formally cancelled although thousands poured into the area anyway, drinking in the streets as bars overflowed with customers.
The crisis subsequently forced the Pride London board to quit and now City Hall is allowing community groups to bid for £500,000 ($808,000 â‚¬613,000) of funding over five years to run the event.
Now Sir Eddie Lister, chief of staff to Mayor Johnson, has gone on the record to talk about how close City Hall came to pulling their support for the 2012 festival altogether.
Johnson’s administration gave free use of Trafalgar Square and £100,000 ($162,000 â‚¬123,000) of funding last summer.
Lister said they had considered downgrading or pulling its funding amid concerns about the event’s viability.
But in the end they left the Trafalgar Square rally, which included performances by 80s pop star Boy George and R&B singer Deborah Cox in place.
The decision was made because it became clear a march would go ahead anyway and they wanted they believed the Trafalgar Square event, at the end of the route, would give crowds something to do and a way to disperse safely.
But Lister also said the event was essential in the long term for the capital’s reputation and economy.
The mayor is said to be close to naming a successful bidder for funding to run LGBT pride in the city from 2013 to 2017.
Of the three bidders, the one believed to be the front-runner is London Community Pride.
More of the £500,000 will be available in the first year to help it set up but City Hall now wants pride to become self-funding after 2017.