DOWN THE PAN: Members of the steelband that won’t be playing at the Leeds West Indian Carnival – from left, Ashley Hendricks, Victoria Jaquiss, Katie Smith and Varshika Patel.
Traditional Caribbean steelband music has been banned from the 44th Leeds West Indian Carnival parade.
The carnival committee of 13 members took the unanimous decision to have no live music in the parade itself at an emergency meeting this week.
Members said due to recent “unrest” in the Chapeltown area they felt they had no option but to make this year’s carnival “a bit calmer” with no steelbands playing on any of the floats.
Chairman Arthur France said: “We are not putting any steelbands on the road in the parade this year. It was a decision taken as we are being extra cautious following recent unrest. In light of violent events, and after careful consideration, we decide that we will not use any steelband on the road, which means no live music.
“We want to keep things a bit calmer. We fear it may cause trouble. It isn’t the noise, we just don’t want any interference on the road.
“We have been placed under a great deal of strain following the national youth uprising and other issues which have been local to our city.”
Music will be provided on a float by DJs and a sound system by Leeds Carnival Committee.
But Victoria Jaquiss, steelpan development officer for Leeds Music Services and band leader of the Foxwood Steel Bandits, The Leeds Silver Doves and Steel Rising, said: “Steelpan should be part of the carnival parade. It is the highlight of the musical year for some members, to play in front of their home crowd. I doubt very much that middle aged women and kids would attract any trouble.
“We performed at Otley Carnival in June and we were at Manchester Carnival last Saturday, following the riots there and it was brilliant atmosphere.”
She said they had been expecting to play at this year’s event and were bitterly disappointed after receiving a call and letter from the committee stating steelbands would not be invited.
Mr France who was founder of the first carnival in Leeds in 1967, one of the first in Europe, said: “At one point last week following an arson attack on carnival headquarters we were not sure whether the carnival would go ahead at all. This was a committee decision, not involving the police, but we have regular meetings with police to keep them updated.”
A steelband from Leeds, New World Steel Symphony Orchestra, will perform on stage in Potternewton Park after the carnival parade is over on Bank Holiday Monday.
Around 15 floats will travel the carnival route through Harehills and Chapeltown and feature people from the city dressed in colourful costumes as well as the carnival Queen, King and princesses.