Boris blasted over festival

by Will Davies Boris Johnson has been blasted for scrapping Britain s biggest anti-racism festival, playing into the hands of extreme right-wing groups. Navin Shah, London Assembly member for Brent and Harrow, said the 100,000 Londoners w

by Will Davies

Boris Johnson has been blasted for scrapping Britain's biggest anti-racism festival, playing into the hands of extreme right-wing groups.

Navin Shah, London Assembly member for Brent and Harrow, said the 100,000 Londoners who flock to Rise every year have been ignored by the London mayor, who scrapped the festival blaming a lack of sponsorship.

But Mr Shah said: "Let's be clear, Mayor Johnson cancelled the event because he did not agree with the sentiments of Rise and he is now playing to the gallery of racists and extreme right wing groups.


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"The core budget came from the GLA and it was the withdrawal of that funding has led to the collapse of Rise not the loss of sponsorship from trade unions and other private sources."

Mr Shah said trade unions were not approached this year to support Rise.

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He added: "For years thousands of Londoners have backed the positive anti-racist message Rise delivered. It was the one big event in the capital for like-minded people to celebrate freedom from the pernicious influence of racism and extremism. I, for one, am sorry that it has gone."

Rise, which cost �551,000 to stage in Finsbury Park last year, was established in 1996 and grew under Ken Livingstone's tenure at City Hall.

A spokesman for Boris Johnson said: "Without a major sponsor in place it is not considered appropriate to spend such a large amount on a single music event, particularly during a recession. Instead, the money will be used to fund a multitude of events and grassroots activities across London. The Mayor hopes to energise the local music scene across the capital, and feed into a longer-term strategy to get young people more involved in making and listening to music."

Mr Johnson is replacing Rise with Rhythm of London, two days of music events and activities to increase musical opportunities and education for young Londoners.

Dozens of events are planned across the capital for the event, which will take place on July 10 and 11.

w.davies@archant.co.uk

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