Just got back from the Notting Hill Carnival. Although it takes less than an hour from Mill Hill to get there on the train (Mill Hill to St Pancras on Thameslink, then St P to Westbourne Park on the tube) - getting back is slight more difficult. The problem? The Police. Sadly they really didn't seem to be, shall we say, too switched on. We returned to Westbourne Park, only to be told that it was Exit only until 18:00 - to regulate the crowds. This is a rather odd policy, given that 18:00 is the designated time for the sound systems to switch off. Surely all they achieved was to delay many people's departure until then, causing even more crushes and crowds. A "helpful" Met officer advised us to walk a mile to Royal Oak station which was open. This we did. There a helpful British Transport Policeman informed us that it was "exit only until 18:00 to avoid crushes" As we were the only people around, this seemed rather bizarre. I informed him "that his mate at Westbourne Park had told us that it was open". His response "That was the Met, they are not our mates". He then advised that we walk to Paddington. The route he gave took us under the Westway, through a flooded area, which involved myself and my kids having to climb near a very fast and busy highway to avoid.
Why is it that the Police in this country seem to think that the best way to "manage crowds" is to make things impossible for people, especially those with children. The carnival is a fantastic event, well worth a visit, but the stupidity of the public transport travel arrangements beggars belief. Is it acceptable that Policemen on duty at closed stations are not told what other stations are open and what is the best option. What is even worse is the way they smirk when they realise you've walked a mile out of your way, with your kids to another closed station.
I love the carnival. It is a real festival, run by the people, for the people. The daytime Sunday childrens parades are spectacular and safe. The only time I saw the slightest anger was when we realised that the police thought it was funny to send people on long wild goose chases. How hard would it be for them to be properly briefed, given that every one had an earpiece (which I started to suspect is used soley for racing tips and to inform them of when it's tea break).