London’s New Year fireworks display is ticketed – to keep out the riff-raff

Most of the people watching the fireworks in this picture won't have tickets for this year's event and will be excluded from the best vantage points "to prevent overcrowding". But is the real reason to keep them away from the rich?

Most of the people watching the fireworks in this picture won’t have tickets for this year’s event and will be excluded from the best vantage points “to prevent overcrowding”. But is the real reason to keep them away from the rich?

Londoners: You elected a Tory Mayor – what did you think would happen?

It seems he has ordered that this year’s New Year fireworks will be a ticket-only event and you will be excluded from public streets – streets your tax money maintains – so that the rich don’t have to be jostled by you.

The display this year is the first-ever such event for which tickets have been sold, and it seems clear that you can thank Boris Johnson for that.

He’s the man who wants to keep you out of the best vantage points along the Thames; those are reserved for the rich.

“It is hoped the move will prevent overcrowding on the night, an issue that has plagued the event in recent years,” the Daily Mirror has reported in surprisingly mild fashion. This clearly means Mr Johnson hopes ticket prices will keep the hoi-polloi away.

Superintendent Robyn Williams told the paper: “Our advice is not to travel into London if you don’t have a ticket. If people are still considering coming to see the fireworks it will be extremely difficult to get around.

“Areas will be cordoned off for those with tickets and Parliament Square and Trafalgar Square will not this year be featuring large viewing screens.”

It’s a form of apartheid; the less affluent are being shunted out of their own city.

This writer’s only question is: Will Londoners meekly accept this treatment?

Or will we see fireworks in more ways than one?

33 thoughts on “London’s New Year fireworks display is ticketed – to keep out the riff-raff

  1. pippakin

    London and the south east are severely overcrowded . New Years Eve always a crowd has become an hysterical mob of mostly immigrants and yes I have been there – several times. Tickets are not a surprise it would be a first if those responsible for the mess had to endure it.

      1. pippakin

        Well yes and that’s not to be offensive mostly its people, immigrants are people, trying to experience a Brit tradition, that has always been so, its failed now because we lack the infrastructure you have thousands of people with poor English being pushed and pulled its manic and into it are those who are out looking for trouble and they have always turned up.

        Its not fun anymore Parliament Square was better but that’s probably been absorbed into the scrum.

    1. ambirlondon

      Actually they are called tourists, they come here for the new year, spend money and then they go home. Don’t worry they are not after your job.

      1. pippakin

        A few thousand tourists yes there will be, hundreds of thousands no there wont.. Immigrant is a perfectly acceptable word it only becomes racist if you choose to use it that way. I used it to explain the difficulties, be they tourist or immigrant, there will be among the hoards. Its not a pleasant experience it can be a frightening one

        In a situation like News years Eve language problems will be real and formidable its not like going to see a royal wedding everyone will be drinking, a lot of them won’t understand each other and some will be young boys/girls looking for a fight trouble makers

    2. loobitzh

      sounds like you think that the only people being stopped from seeing the fireworks this year are foreign speaking immigrants and trouble makers. I wonder which party you support?

  2. reddeviljp

    Normally, I may agree with you but on the issue of NYE I have to disagree. For many locals the crowds that visit the Southbank at weekends are becoming unbearable and ruining what was once a peaceful area.

    The crowds last year for the NYE event were horrendous and the stench of urine the day after was overpowering. For many of us that live locally to the event the sight of huge, huge crowds pouring through our estate and using it as a short cut wasn’t appreciated, was dangerous and caused damage to people’s cars, motor cycle’s, the estate and our gardens.

    With crowds that big, all on a freebie with free transport, it’s only a matter of time before there’s an accident of some sort and the Mayor will then be liable for the legal proceedings that will follow.This was a given and is probably the minimum demand of insurance companies who assessed the event and demanded huge premiums if it wasn’t reduced in numbers.Judging by the size of the security operation being put in place and the fencing restricting access to the riverside they are taking this year’s security very seriously indeed.

    For locals, we were offered free tickets many months ago. I did not take up the offer as I have no interest in the event but many other locals have.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      It’s still denying access to people who pay their taxes, and that’s unjustifiable.

      1. Peeve

        I don’t often disagree with you, Mike, but I do on this occasion. Purely from a health & safety perspective, it makes perfect sense to police an event that large. We know from Hillsborough what happens when you give unrestricted access to a lot of people into a confined area. And policing such an event comes at a cost. At least local residents have been offered free tickets.

        Oh, and why should access be only for people who pay their taxes? What about the unwaged who don’t? Or tourists?

        I share your dislike of Boris Johnson and the Tory administration, but I suspect a Labour mayor would have made the same decision.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        Unwaged people pay indirect taxes; so do tourists.

        Local residents should be given free tickets no matter what – simply for the inconvenience of what’s going on in the place where they live; and they’d be barred from their own homes without those tickets, wouldn’t they?

        Your health and safety argument is worth making, but the fact remains that people have already paid for the right to walk on those streets, and they’ve already paid for those streets to be policed.

    2. Stu

      I used to live in London near Finsbury Park and it seemed every week a huge number of people would pass through the estate, piss everywhere, and jam up the trains. I saw one guy pissing in a neighbours door way, the neighbour came out and kicked the crap out of him. I bet he never pisses out doors again. So yes i agree, it was annoying for residents. That said, this is the case most places in london so i took a different approach. Rather than denying people their right to have a laugh, I moved away, this solved the problem. Security is necessary for sure, but ticketing? Not if you have to pay for it. If it was just to keep the numbers down the tickets would be free and wouldnt restrict you to a specific area.

  3. Mr.Angry

    Nothing surprising here then after all Boris is one of them how very sad, maybe they will kettle in the rich for protection !!!! A very happy new year to Mr& Mrs Mike sadly we are still snowed in reside @ 900 feet so will share the festivities with the sheep !! and what ever wild life cares to join in.

      1. Mr.Angry

        Same here Mike 1.2 miles down a track to the main road becomes like an ice rink, salt is out the question private lane !!!!! Stuck in for six weeks during that horrendous winter of 2012. The Police had to get insulin to me on a quad bike!!!! Then stayed for a drink would you believe.

  4. Joan Edington

    Edinburgh’s Hogmanay street party and fireworks has been ticketed for many years without too many complaints. It currently costs £20, reduced for EH postcode residents, which is a lot less than going to most sporting events or music gigs. There are bars and restaurants, 2 music stages and a concert in the gardens under the castle as well as the firework display. They run free buses till 4 am too. I think it’s well worth the money. I don’t know what London are charging for their tickets, mind.

  5. Andy Robertson-Fox

    They are charging simply for the ticketing administration to enable those that wish to stand on the the streets you suggest they have already paid for in greater safety and comfort. Given that the numbers attending have ıncreased over fivefold since 2003 to limit the numbers in a non profit making process must be seen as most sensible.
    Those that wish to attend – including the riff-raff as you term them have had ample opportunity to purchase, at a tenner a ticket, since it was announced last September (did you question it then?) and, of course, with so many attenders coming from outside the London area anyway it does not fall on the London based taxpayer to meet the cost of safety by making them free..

  6. Jane Young

    I also disagree on this occasion, Mike. The issue is not access to the streets, but unrestricted access to a relatively small area which gives the best view of fireworks that will have cost a great deal of money – in addition to the cost of policing and free travel. Although I live close to London and could get up there, I don’t think it’s likely to be safe for disabled people if access is totally unrestricted. Also, free, unrestricted access will always favour those with the stamina to wait outside for a considerable length of time to secure the best vantage point – which immediately makes it less accessible to people without that stamina, particularly disabled people! Ticketing is arguably more fair, and considerably safer, than allowing unrestricted access that in reality means “survival of the fittest”, as only those with the stamina to cope with the crowds will benefit. Ticketing is much better than a Darwinian fight for survival, especially since locals, who are the ones who’ve paid the GLA precept as part of their council tax and the ones who are inconvenienced, have been offered free tickets. Others can get a good view from the TV coverage, or make a contribution towards the huge costs by buying a ticket. On this issue I don’t think there’s a problem, as ticketing will make the event safer and more accessible to all those who want to attend, especially those who live close by.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      The cost of the fireworks is neither here nor there – they cost a great deal of money on all the years when the event was free, too.
      Policing is supported by the police precept.
      I don’t know that free travel has been laid on – in any case it won’t be free if the only people using it had to pay £10 for the privilege.
      While I certainly sympathise with your concerns about the disabled, it seems strange to concentrate on them when the issue is that nobody has access without having to pay extra for it.
      Mostly, commenters have been saying the tickets should pay for the costs of things that should be provided in any case – it seems to me. If this was not the case in the past, you need to ask your councillors why not.

      1. Jane Young

        I don’t agree that expensive fireworks are necessarily something that should be paid for “in any case”, ie by our council tax. The reason I focused on what a nightmare it would be for disabled people to get access was simply to make the point that crowds can be just as much of a barrier as cost. I’d be ok with the idea of tickets being free for all, on a first come, first served basis, since the essential consideration is physical safety and public order. However, I take the view that the priority for council tax funding should be social care, police resources devoted to combating crime rather than controlling crowds, plus other essential services, rather than fireworks that can be enjoyed live by those prepared to get a ticket and freeze on the streets, or on TV for the rest of us. With all the serious problems facing our society at the turn of the year, decisions about who can view fireworks and choose to get cold standing outside in a crowd are hardly of fundamental importance (in my view)!!

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        The fact is that councils are going to pay for stuff like this. They have a budget for it. The ticketing is about making money, really, nothing else.

  7. Nick

    my daughter works in Westminster and she too needs a free pass to go to this evenings fireworks. she has not applied for the pass on principal but is still going anyhow a bit odd but as far as shes aware it’s a free country

    well i wish her luck but feel she will be turned away from Westminster ?

      1. Nick

        Will do mike her plans are to now go to primrose hill for the watching of the fireworks for free with her friends. not sure how the residents will take to that but will indeed tomorrow let you know how her evening went

      2. Nick

        they had a very good time by all accounts and got back home at around 4am nr gatwick where we live

        No problem at all other then the usual train cancellation on the way back home

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      I don’t think so. I think it’s about making money and pushing out the many.

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        Is that what they’re calling it?
        You see? I’ve seen no information about this racket at all.

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