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London mayor may ask people to ‘bid’ to run Pride

Confusion continues over the future of London’s biggest LGBT event with pride bosses, City Hall and potential organizers pursuing different ways forward
A reveller at this year's pride in London, but the future of the event remains in doubt.
Photo by Scott Nunn.

London Mayor Boris Johnson wants people to bid to run the city’s LGBT pride as confusion over the future of the event continues.

Johnson’s City Hall, which was criticized after the UK capital had to scale back World Pride it hosted in July, is apparently planning to call for tenders from potential pride organizers.

While LGBT pride in the city is independent and not technically ‘owned’ by the mayor, City Hall has traditionally put in £100,000 ($159,000 €126,000) to help make it happen, as well as donating Trafalgar Square in the heart of London for free.

That makes the mayor’s Greater London Authority the biggest cash supporter of pride. And as the body also in charge of the transport network and the police, they are the only people who carry enough weight to bring all parties together to ensure it happens.

But the mayor’s officials are yet to formally announce the bidding process for their funding they are proposing behind the scenes.

It adds a further level of confusion to the future of the event whose previous organizers are now thought to have either quit or be on the verge of resigning.

Despite this Pride London, the independent organization which runs the LGBT festival, is going ahead with an annual general meeting on 3 October at 6pm at a venue to be announced in central London.

In a bid to restructure, Pride London is proposing to become a membership organization with people having until 3 October to register as members for free.

Bosses have not announced, however, how people should apply to be members.

They then want people who wish to be involved to write a 200 word manifesto and stand for election.

But with the 2011 accounts not set to be available until a few days before the meeting and the 2012 accounts still not in the public eye, those who stand will not know if the organization is in the red or black.

And the plan clashes directly with City Hall’s approach.

Separately, several people and informal groups are working to try to ensure the event happens next year. They are expected to step forward shortly to seek more help, consult on their plans and seek a public mandate for the future of the event.

While some wish to keep the current structure of pride to save time, others feel the existing charity should be wound-up and a new body formed – to distance new organizers from past problems.

Two previous public meetings, one organized by the UK’s trade unions and another run by Gay Star News with the help of nightclub brand G-A-Y, have generated an informal consensus that most people want a free, community-led event.

The events also brought together some people with an interest in contributing to the future of pride.

But those attending a follow-up trade union meeting last night (6 September) say it failed to move the agenda much further forward.

In particular, they criticized a ‘bizarre’ warm-up session at the public meeting where everyone attending was asked to hold a pebble in one hand and a potato in the other to encourage them to think about the future of pride. The pebbles and potatoes were provided by meeting organizers.

Meanwhile only 10 months remain until the likely, although unconfirmed, date of next year’s pride.

Some experts are worried this is too short a time to restructure the event, bring in new expertise, carry out all the usual preparations and, critically, secure the likely £250,000 to £500,000 it will cost ($398,000 to $796,000, €315 to €630).

GSN asked London’s City Hall to formally confirm their plans for a tendering process for pride and is awaiting a response.

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