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Londoners launch last ditch £66K fight to save World Pride

LGBT campaigners in London call on Mayor Boris Johnson to intervene and help them save World Pride
London Mayor Boris Johnson is under pressure to save gay World Pride.

Gay activists are begging London Mayor Boris Johnson to save World Pride which was massively scaled back in a cash crisis this week.

The LGBT campaigners say £66,000 would help them restore floats to the gay pride parade which was slashed to being just a ‘march’ with walking groups only.

Pride London bosses also cancelled a massive street party in the British capital’s LGBT district of Soho this week and cut down the World Pride rally in Trafalgar Square.

The event is due to take place in just one week on 7 July. But the radical downsizing was only announced yesterday (28 June), in a story broken by Gay Star News.

New figures released today by activists, but which Gay Star News can not verify, suggest Pride London bosses lost £85,000 ($133,000 €105,000) as investors got nervous about a lack of support for the event and negative media coverage.

Money which had, according to GSN sources, already been paid for security for the Soho street party can’t now be recovered as the event was cancelled too late.

The new figures, given to the activists by Pride London’s board, say they had initially budgeted £250,000 ($392,000 €309,000) to host World Pride but costs escalated to £334,000 ($524,000 €414,000) due to greater security and safety requirements.

Of that, Pride London raised £224,000 ($351,000 €278,000).

A proposed letter for Londoners and community groups to send has been drafted by Consortium, a network of LGBT groups. It is anxious to protect its members which have invested money in floats and wants to give London a proper World Pride.

The letter says: ‘Much like the Olympics, World Pride 2012 is an opportunity for London and indeed the United Kingdom to shine on the international stage.

‘I am concerned that unlike the Olympic organizers support has fallen short from the Mayor of London and the government for Pride London as the organizers of World Pride 2012.’

The letter accuses the Johnson’s Greater London Authority and the government of failing to offer ‘decisive support’.

The Consortium wants supporters to lobby their MPs and London Assembly Members. But it told Gay Star News that the only person who can bring all agencies together to save the event at this stage is Johnson.

They are putting the emphasis on getting cars, busses and floats back into the World Pride parade which they say will cost around £66,000 ($103,000 €82,000).

A Pride London insider however suggested to GSN earlier today that no amount of money would make a difference, hinting that arrangements were now too late to change.

In a letter to members sent this evening, however, Consortium boss Paul Roberts says they should keep working for a solution.

‘We need to remain positive about why the parade should go ahead as originally planned,’ he says. ‘It provides us with a unique opportunity to stand side by side and promote the huge array of work we all undertake.

‘If we work together to lobby for a positive solution to this, then the world will look on in awe at what our communities can achieve together.’

Meanwhile others have placed the blame at Mayor Johnson’s door.

A Facebook 'event' group called Shame London has published an open letter to him expressing ‘our utter dissatisfaction and anger with you, with Westminster Council and with Pride London for the utter disgrace of this year’s World Pride.’

The new scaled-back arrangements are described as a ‘lame and shameful embarrassment for the city’.

The letter, by Alex Tarran, goes on to emphasize the negative impact on the community, well-meaning pride volunteers, tourists who have already booked flights and many others.

It slams Westminster City Council for axing street party licenses, delivering a blow to LGBT and other businesses in Soho.

But it calls on Johnson to act: ‘We call on you now to end this, to reinstate World Pride as planned, to knock the heads of Westminster Council and the Met Police together and to take your rightful place at the front of our Carnival Parade.’

And Shame London pledges to attend the scaled-down march in protest.

The Greater London Authority gave £100,000 ($157,000 €124,000) sponsorship to Pride London for the event.

Pride have disputed claims in the London Evening Standard that the crisis was caused by unpaid bills from last year.

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