We’re currently in the middle of the Story Of London, a month-long “festival” intended to celebrate the city’s past, present and future. The GLA website promises hundreds of events taking place across London, so wherever you are in the capital, you’ll find an event near you. However, I’ve failed abysmally in finding even one event in the London Borough of Hillingdon, despite being promised “dozens of events” in every borough. Boris’s Director of Policy for Arts, Culture and the Creative Industries, Munira Mirza, stated on last Sunday’s BBC Politics Show that the festival was intended to encourage more tourists and Londoners themselves to visit “hidden gems,” particularly in the outer boroughs.

The Story Of London was apparently intended to replace the Trafalgar Square Festival, an annual event since 2003 under the previous Mayoral administration. The RISE Festival,  an annual event which has also been abolished by Boris Johnson, has been replaced by Rhythm Of London, a two-day event intended to “highlight the opportunities for young people in London to develop their music skills, with an emphasis on getting involved and playing music of any type.”

Boris Johnson’s May 2009 Mayor’s Report states:

On 7 April, I unveiled plans for Rhythm of London, two days of music events and activities being developed as part of my drive to increase musical opportunities and education for all young Londoners.

The first day of the musical celebration, 10 July, will focus on music education and performance in schools. Schools throughout the capital have been invited to take part, with all types of music and musical activity welcome in any location – not just school premises – and young people of any ability being encouraged to have a go.

The following day (11 July) will feature free local events at a range of locations, including the finale to the City of London Festival and Sing London’s ‘Street Piano’ project, which will see pianos placed in public squares and at city landmarks for the public to use and enjoy.
There will be live music performed by local musicians in bandstands in Barnet, Golders Green, Hampstead, Hillingdon, Redbridge and Tower Hamlets, in collaboration with Matrix and the Musicians Union.

However, the Bandstands event now lists the venues as Barnet, Ilford, Leyton, Chiswick and Greenwich, so it looks as though plucky old Hillingdon’s going to be disappointed again.


I’ve heard from the London Borough of Hillingdon’s Local Studies, Archive and Museums Manager, Carolynne Cotton, that there are no Story Of London events in the borough, much as they would have liked to have been involved. The local studies team had already planned an exhibition and event in May and were unable to change their plans due to the exhibition space being fully booked.

Ms Cotton believes that a number of other boroughs were unable to participate for various reasons, but Hillingdon hope to be able to take part if the event happens again next year.

This information directly contradicts previous statements made by Munira Mirza that there were Story Of London events in every London borough; indeed, the original press release promised “dozens of events and activities in every borough throughout June.”

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