London’s New Year’s Eve fireworks is to be ticketed for the first time and access limited to just 100,000 revellers, Mayor Boris Johnson has announced,
The annual display was previously free of charge but the Mayor says growing crowds, which last year exceed 500,000, meant it was now necessary to limit the numbers who could watch the event.
City Hall says an admin fee of £10 will be charged for each ticket which insists it will only cover the cost of operating the ticketing scheme and not generate any profit.
Addressing London Assembly Members at Mayor’s Question Time, Mr Johnson said he’d listed to advice from the Metropolitan Police, London Ambulance Service and Transport for London in approving the introduction of tickets.
Earlier on Wednesday he said: “After consulting with our partners, we are introducing ticketing to help manage crowd numbers and create a better experience on the night.
“For anyone without a ticket the fireworks are again being shown live and in full on television, meaning you can watch it in glorious HD colour without missing a single second.”
Green Party AM Darren Johnson said the Mayor should consider sponsoring local fireworks displays across the capital to ensure those who couldn’t attend the central London event could still mark the New Year at a safe event.
Labour’s Len Duvall expressed concern that the new fee could price out families.
He said: “London’s fireworks are one of the most iconic New Year’s Eve celebrations in the world, but it is important that enjoying the celebrations does not become prohibitively expensive for average Londoners and the thousands of tourists who come to watch them.
Liberal Democrat AM Caroline Pidgeon said: “£10 a ticket might not seem extortionate, but for a family the cost can quickly rack up.”
She added: “London’s New Year Eve fireworks showcases the capital to the world and we should delight in its growing popularity which mirrors the growing popularity of London as a place to visit.
“The central London event must be accessible to everyone and that must mean it remains free. It would be a scandal if any families were denied access to the event due to the introduction of ticket prices.”
David Lammy MP, who recently confirmed his ambitions to become Labour’s 2016 Mayoral candidate, said part of the display’s appeal was that the event was “a free & festive gathering open to all, not a sterile ticketed show.”
Another potential Labour candidate, Dame Tessa Jowell said the adoption of tickets “will end the idea of inclusive not exclusive, something for everyone, free London.”