London New Year's Eve: Thameside fireworks event to cost £10 a ticket in new charge

Mayor Boris Johnson announced the new ticketing measure today after the formerly free event attracted half a million people last year

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The Independent Online

Throngs of revellers jostling for a space by the Thames watching, wide-eyed, a cacophony of explosions light up the sky around the London Eye on New Year’s Eve has been a staple attraction for the last ten years – but the scene is set to look slightly different this year around.

It will look four fifths different in fact – with eager visitors and Londoners watching the spectacle at the Thames now having to pay £10 to do so – as numbers are slashed from 500,000 to 100,000.

The bladder-busting event had previously been free, but the realities of an annually swelling crowd, the lack of available space to get a good view at the back and the strain on transport and public safety has proven it to be no longer manageable.

Announcing the move, London Mayor Boris Johnson said today: “London's New Year's Eve fireworks are phenomenally popular, not just in the capital, but across the world and we want to ensure it continues to be a safe, enjoyable and sustainable event for the long-term.

“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.”

According to officials, no profit will be made on the £1million generated by the sale – instead all the cash will go on the process of ticketing, as well as the increased infrastructure and staffing needed.

The move was spurred by the growing levels of spectators since the fireworks began in 2003 but was not welcomed by parts of the political spectrum.

Mayoral hopeful Labour’s David Lammy said on Twitter: “Always loved that London NYE fireworks were a free & festive gathering open to all, not a sterile ticketed show. Not any more. #thanksboris”.

Others worried that the event would no longer be open to cash-strapped families and that there could be crowd management problems on the periphery of the paid-for zone.

Caroline Pidgeon, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group, said: “It would be a scandal if any families were denied access to the event due to the introduction of ticket prices,” according to the Evening Standard.

Len Duvall, Leader of the Labour London Assembly Group, said people may view it as nothing but a money-making exercise and cautioned that it should not “become prohibitively expensive” as the cost for a whole family “can quickly rack up”.

Popular Twitter account @SkintLondon called for it to be balloted for free instead.

The event will go on until 12.45am with a live DJ set, the Mayor's office states, with free transport across the network for all set to continue for another year.

The ticketed viewing spots will be set up on both the north and sides of the river and will "broadly stretch from Westminster to Waterloo Bridge", with restrictions on nearby areas, too.

Greater London Authority said it came to the decision to charge after consulting the fire brigade, ambulance service, British Transport Police, Met Police and councils among others.

Tickets will be available on www.london.gov.uk/nye from midday on 26 September, with buyers able to purchase

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