City Hall has confirmed that the capital’s New Year’s Eve fireworks display will remain a ticketed event.
Attending the display was previously free of charge but in 2014 former Mayor Boris Johnson introduced paid-for ticketing in order to manage the numbers congregating along the Thames and at transport hubs as revellers made their way home.
The move to ticket-only attendance was initially controversial with some politicians, including several Assembly Members and would-be Labour Mayors, criticising Mr Johnson.
Current Mayor Sadiq Khan, then shadow London minister, claimed the change had been “driven by cuts not safety.”
Criticism heightened when tickets for the publicly funded display were found on resale sites within minutes of being released by City Hall, often for many times their original £10 cover price.
Tickets for last year’s event were released in early October, but last week City Hall declined to comment when asked why this year’s tickets had not yet gone on sale.
Today Mr Khan’s office said the Mayor had taken the time to “personally” scrutinise plans for the event and to liaise with the Met Police, emergency services and boroughs who all confirmed that retaining tickets is “the best way to ensure a safe and enjoyable event”.
Tickets will go on sale from midday on Friday 21 October via the City Hall website.
Mr Khan said: “London is the best place in the world to see in the New Year and every year thousands of people watch the spectacular fireworks display on the banks of the Thames.
“My number one priority is the safety of Londoners and visitors to the capital and I want everyone to be able to enjoy this fantastic event in a way that is fun and secure.
“I have taken the advice of experts including the police and emergency services and am assured that ticketing is the best way to keep revellers safe on the night.
“I want everyone to be able to fully immerse themselves in the display and will be looking at ways to get people at home and around the world involved, so everyone has a great view of the London fireworks.”
Commenting on the Mayor’s change of stance on ticketing, Conservative London Assembly member, Gareth Bacon said: “It’s rather interesting that the Mayor is now willing to back a ticketing strategy he described not long ago as ‘unfair and ineffective’.
“This was a sensible policy introduced by Boris which, despite the Mayor’s previous insistence that it was ‘driven by cuts not safety’, has dramatically improved the New Year’s Eve experience for thousands of Londoners.
“It appears that now he is in the hot seat and not simply able to criticise from a distance, Sadiq Khan is recognising some of the good work introduced by his predecessor.”