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Notting Hill Carnival carries on despite heavy rain

Umbrellas and colourful plastic rain macs were the costumes of choice for revellers attending Europe’s biggest street party.

Heavy rain soaked the Notting Hill Carnival but it did not stop the determined revellers who were out for a party.

Instead of the t-shirt and shorts sported for the searing hot weather of just a few weeks ago, there were umbrellas and a roaring trade for colourful plastic rain macs at Europe’s biggest street party.

Singer Alexandra Burke, named on Sunday as the carnival’s first ever ambassador, carried out her first duty in the role by opening this year’s event.

The community celebration carved its way around west London in a mass of music, dancing, bold costumes and floats of soaked entertainers.

After a wave of violent crime in the capital in recent months, Scotland Yard announced knife arches had been placed at “strategic points” along the route to help reassure people about their safety, though the Metropolitan Police did not disclose where.

Police hope the “tried and tested” method of knife arches will put off those planning to arm themselves with knives and offensive weapons but not everybody will be expected to pass through them.

The bank holiday weekend event is also being policed by the highest number of officers in six years.

Burke described it as “a privilege” and just a bit “nuts” to be a carnival ambassador.

It is a year-long role as the voice of carnival to help  promote the community spirit and positive aspects surrounding the annual event.

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Dancers brave the heavy rain during the Children’s Day parade (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

She recalled going to carnival as a child with her family and said: “The one thing that stands out for me about carnival is bringing the community together. It is people coming together and having a fantastic time.

“It is just about a good vibe, good music, good food and amazing people around you.

“So have the best day no matter what the weather is saying.”

At 3pm the music stopped for a 72-second silence in tribute to the 72 people who died following the fire at Grenfell Tower in June 2017.

The tower block is within half-a-mile of the parade route.

The silence was broken at the Rampage sound stage, just off Colville Square, with cheers, whistles and the booming voice of the late Aretha Franklin singing Respect.

Revellers had been asked to show respect and some, including Notting Hill Carnival Limited executive director Matthew Phillip, wore something green for Grenfell in tribute.

He proudly wore a green t-shirt with the words “come unity” across the front.

(Grenfell) is not going away. We still have members of our community in temporary housing. This is to show our support Matthew Phillip

He said: “Grenfell is very much part of our community. The people who died in the tower and survivors are part of our community. Grenfell has affected a lot of people and it is very much a live issue.

“It is not going away. We still have members of our community in temporary housing. This is to show our support.”

He said using the knife arches is part of a wide-ranging “belt and braces” approach to try and make carnival safe.

Mr Phillip added: “London as a whole and the UK is operating under a backdrop of knife crime, and we are working to have a safe carnival. The introduction of the knife arches is one thing we have as we to try to do that.

“There have been so many other events that have this. Notting Hill Carnival is very different because it takes place on the streets.

“We will have even more eyes and ears on the ground from the community as well as police, and I think that will help to make sure people feel safe and to identify people who come to wrong.

“Most people who come to carnival come to enjoy themselves, and we want that spirit of safety and unity.”

Some 13,000 officers have been deployed to the bank holiday weekend event – around 450 more than last year and more than the parades over the past five years.

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Police officers during the Children’s Day parade at the Notting Hill Carnival (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Almost 7,000 officers, some from the Metropolitan Police’s newly formed Violent Crime Task Force, will be policing Monday’s event to “combat the threat of violent crime,” according to the Metropolitan Police.

This will be up from 6,100 on-duty officers on Sunday’s less busy family day.

Undercover police officers as well as officers from the force firearms and dog unit are on duty.

The event is expected to attract more than one million revellers to its floats, food stalls and music.

Kensington and Chelsea Council’s new leader Elizabeth Campbell was among the carnival crowds.

She was chatting with council deputy leader Kim Taylor-Smith and Conservative politician Shaun Bailey who was bopping to the beat of a passing band of drummers.

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