Boris Johnson’s decision to make the capital’s annual New Year’s Eve firework display a paid, ticketed event proved controversial in some quarters but newly a published City Hall document suggests the arrangements are here to stay.
According to the Mayoral Decision (MD) document authorising the switch, the 2015 and 2016 displays will also be ticketed with that decision taken before any one knew how the 2014 event panned out.
The document correctly predicted that introducing paid tickets would be unpopular and warned it could create the perception that the event had been commercialised.
However Boris was told by officials that “If a paid-for-ticket event format is not approved then the only remaining option is to cancel the event,” resulting in damage to London’s domestic and international reputation.
The MD casts doubt on City Hall’s previous attempts to downplay the significance of failing to find an event sponsor.
When I first reported the lack of a sponsor, the Mayor’s office said the money “would allow us to add to the overall experience of the event but it does not pay for any of the essential elements of the evening.”
But the document, signed in July, suggests otherwise.
Although it warned of the dangers of starting the search for a sponsor so late in the year, it stated:
“Expenditure related to implementation of the New Year’s Eve ticketing format will be met by funding from the GLA, ticket revenue, sponsorship, concessions and other income.”
and added that if a sponsor wasn’t found or “only limited levels of sponsorship” were secured, “any shortfall will require GLA funds to cover it.”
So it seems securing a sponsor was a little more important than City Hall wanted us to think.
And despite several potential Labour Mayoral runners condemning the move to ticketing, it looks like the next Mayor will inherit a plan to see in 2017 that involves charging Londoners for access.