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A huge overnight clean-up operation will begin tonight to clear 300 tonnes of waste after revellers enjoyed Notting Hill Carnival weekend in glorious sunshine.
Beaming crowds flocked to celebrate Europe’s biggest street festival this weekend as a parade of colourfully-dressed performers danced through west London’s streets on the UK’s hottest ever late August Bank Holiday.
But as the last of the exhausted and hungover festival-goers head home, a 200-strong team of cleaners will take to the streets in a dedicated effort to get the affluent area back in ship shape.
“The aim for us is to make it not look like an event has taken place,” said Gary O’Hagan, who coordinates the tidy-up to ensure the streets are clean in time for business as usual on Tuesday.
“We need to get it all finished and polished for the businesses to reopen and also for residents, many who have gone away for the weekend and will be returning.”
Photos from the second and final day of the carnival show huge piles of rubbish and streets lined with filthy food waste and discarded drink cans.
Mr O’Hagan, who has helped clean up after around 25 carnivals, works with the litter-picking workforce at council contractor SUEZ Recycling and Recovery .
He told the Standard: “Normally on a Sunday we leave the depot at around about 10pm, it all depends on the police and the crowds and safety aspect.
“We were working last night until about 3.45am but it has been later.
“Monday is a much heavier night. We will be out probably until 6am. Then we go around again at about 10am on Tuesday.”
“We keep on going until all the roads are clear,” he said.
“We cover the whole carnival footprint, we move the area into a number of sectors and have crews in each sector. As the sector gets finished, that crew moves on to help the next.”
Mr O’Hagan said the atmosphere throughout the night is “fantastic” and many of the workers really enjoy the massive task.
“There’s real camaraderie; a lot of the management tram have been doing it for a number of years,” he said. “It’s like a little family.
“It’s really hard work for them, physically very hard but they all seem to enjoy it. We all work together and there’s a real sense of achievement at the end.”
This year’s carnival could be one of the messiest the team has ever had to clean up, with hotter weather often bringing more people to the festival – and thus more rubbish.
The 2017 event was marked by commemorations to victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, as the high-rise building loomed over the festival site.
At 3pm on both days, crowds fell silent in tribute to the victims of the fire in which at least 80 people died.
The carnival route passed near to the estate and police formed a zone of quiet reflection around the site of the tragedy, while passers-by were urged not to take selfies featuring the tower.
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