Monthly Archives: June 2010

Whose Shout?

The 'Whose Shout?' report from Lambeth CPCG

Lambeth Community Police Consultative Group have just released a report called ‘Whose Shout?’ examining the relationship between Lambeth’s residents and the police, investigating whose voices are not heard in the community when it comes to crime. ‘Crime’. That’s one big topic and imbued with political debate, from how many police we should have on the streets to how people should be punished.  But don’t be put off – this is an important document and it’s here for you to read.

So what comes out of the report? First, it is clear that crime in the borough really has fallen – over 30% since 2002. But, conversely, fear of crime has gone up and, says the report, “Lambeth remains a high crime area, with the third most recorded offenses of all London boroughs in 2008-9”. Only 23% of residents feel consulted on crime and only 25% feel that the police and local groups are succesfully dealing with it.

In April 2009, a new statutary ‘duty to involve’ was imposed upon councils – so policing departments now have to listen to and actively involve the community they serve. But how to do that? There are already lots of different crime-based community groups in Lambeth – from Safer Neighbourhood Panels, which are split up per ward and provide residents with the opportunity to talk to their local Safer Neighbourhood Teams, to Neighbourhood Watch Groups and the Lambeth-wide CPCG. The CPCG was established after the Scarman Report in 1981 and has always been relatively innovative in its approach. It is a monthly meeting open to any Lambeth resident; a place for a lot of grandstanding, but it’s also one of the few forums in which people can have their say about policing in Lambeth.

But not everyone wants to get up and speak at a public meeting and clearly not enough people in Lambeth feel involved in decisions about crime. Catriona Robertson, the author of the report, has talked to all kinds of people through many different means to see what they think of the current situation – video vox pops on social housing estates, a focus group in Angell Town and online surveys. And, because naturally we do not all speak as one, there are a wide variety of local concerns – some feel uncomfortable walking past drug sellers outside KFC, others want more CCTV cameras and a Youth Parliament was even suggested so that more young people can have a say than in the current Youth Council.

‘Whose Shout?’ is open-minded in its suggestions for improvement in police-community relations. There should be “different methods of engagement” [what a terrible, jargony word ‘engagement’ is]. One suggestion is to involve young people by getting them to text Stop-and-Search experiences to the CPCG Monitoring Group and be texted back with action points. More knowledge and information needs to be accessible to a wider group of people and that means diversifying the means by which it is disseminated, from online forums and radio stations to pamphlets and public meetings with different formats.

Most importantly, people need to feel like something actually happens to their comments and complaints once they have been filed – they need feedback or the whole process feels futile. This report is a fascinating read…or a skim-through if you don’t have time to wade through 91 pages. Here’s hoping its recommendations don’t fall by the wayside.

The next CPCG meeting is at the Town Hall on July 6 at 6pm and there is a meeting of the Brixton Hill Safer Neighbourhood Panel tonight.


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The week ahead in Brixton

Tuesday 22 June:  ‘Please Give‘, the new ensemble comedy film from Nicola Holofcener starring Rebecca Hall, is showing at The Ritzy at 6.45 pm and Jazz Hands at Upstairs is on afterwards – a night of bluesy soul, funk and New York comedy .

Wednesday 23: Watch England embarrass themselves against Slovenia at 3pm at home/at work/in the pub. Then take in some high culture at the open-air performance of The Tempest on its first night in Brockwell Park, 7.30pm. Runs until Sunday. See here for tickets.

Thursday 24: The longest day of the year! Check the weather, swim at the Brockwell Lido [it’s cheaper after 6pm] and then join the Midsummer party, BBQ and live music at the The Lido Cafe. You can book on 020 7737 8183.

Friday 25: Deadly Rhythm soundsystem returns to Plan B with the official launch party for Kode 9’s DJ Kicks CD.

Saturday 26: Get over the fact that you’re not at Glasto. Wander through Brixton Market, picnic in the park and enjoy the sun* (*subject to Met Weather change)

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Update on the Brixton £

In September 2009, the Brixton Pound was launched with all the accompanying fanfare from the national media. What has happened since then, now the B£ is no longer so much under the spotlight?

As a community presence, the B£ Group seem to be flourishing. They have stalls at every major Brixton event, Transition Town Brixton have a community shop in the Granville Arcade and new businesses are being added all the time. The notes can now be accepted in over 160 businesses, more than double the number in September. Recent additions include BX Merchandise in the Bon Marche centre and several of the ‘Brixton Village’ shops.

Jenni Hulse, press officer for the B£, said “Now it’s all calmed down a bit, we can focus on communicating with local businesses. The main challenge is encouraging people to offer the B£ back in change – not just accept it – to create a more circular view.”

One major difficulty for the Brixton scheme as an urban currency has been that local market traders often do not use suppliers from London, let alone from Brixton, which means that very few could sign up to the Pound in the first place.

That’s still a problem and the B£ Group has just received funding to map out the supply chains in Brixton to help put businesses in touch with each other, source their produce in the area and provide mutual support. Two paid researchers will be employed from September to do this research. In the meantime, there are thoughts to launch an ‘adopt a shop’ initiative to encourage residents to build up a stronger relationship with their local businesses.

It’s too early for there to have been an extensive survey of the B£’s effect on the local economy, but it seems unlikely – let’s be honest here – that the B£ will ever have a significant impact on local carbon output. For me, however, that doesn’t take away from the fact that it is a community initiative that celebrates Brixton – and that can be no bad thing.

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Not so frothy coffee – Starbucks-style

This is a step too far for me. It looks like Brixton Rd is going to get that dreaded death knell for any high street – a Starbucks… The  website reported in February that Starbucks have signed a lease for 439 Brixton Rd, one of the units by the underground station. According to, the company “is thought to be paying around £110,000 a year for the store which has a 1,300 sq ft ground floor”. On May 16, ‘Caroline 27’ posted on the Urban 75 forum that the lease had been confirmed by @Starbucks. Here is the recent debate on Urban 75

And in the spirit of supporting independent businesses, see below for a mini interview with Lorient Gashi and go here to find out about the new Federation Coffee in the Granville Arcade.


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Lori’s Frothy Coffee #2

When Brixton Blog interviewed Lori Gashient in January, he reported that business at the new ‘Lori’s Frothy Coffee Bar’ (in the Brixton Central Stop Shop) had been slow.  We caught up with him now that summer has come and after the rumours that Starbucks have signed a lease in a unit by the station. Here he is in his own words:

“Business hasn’t been very good, but it’s going OK. I think it takes a while for a food and drink business to get going – people put the stuff in their stomachs so they have to be more confident about it. I will stay open, but the summer will be quiet because people don’t want hot drinks like coffee as much. I would do cold coffee, but I’d need a sink to prepare that. Or I’d like to sell slush puppies. My wife is from Brazil so we might sell some Brazilian food too.

I had to stop selling the popcorn, because it wasn’t selling and the people in the offices upstairs complained about the smell!”


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The week ahead

Top tips for this upcoming Brixton week:

All week: Take a look at the In Public’ exhibition at Photofusion Gallery. An exhibition of street photography celebrating the 10 year birthday of the In Public photography collective.

Tuesday 8: Open Mic night at Ritzy Upstairs – sing, tell jokes and perform poetry to your heart’s content. Or just listen to others do it.

Thursday 10: Late night opening at the ‘Brixton Village’ in Granville Arcade. This week’s event is hosted by the School of Everything, a website that matches people who want to learn a skill with people who can teach it. So go expand your minds – who knows, you could learn anything from karate to beekeeping. And there’s fantastic food in the various new restaurants to boot.

Friday 11: The legendary Top Cats and DJ Natty Bo return to Hootananny (and for free too)

Saturday 12: Globoloco take their world music beats to their monthly party at Mango Landin. Reggae, ska, boogaloo, Latino hiphop – it’s all there.


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Doctor, doctor…I need my windows draught proofing

If you belong to the Brixton Low Carbon Zone, make sure you get a ‘Green Doctor’ around to take a look at your house. The new team of five set to work this month to advise residents on eco-living, from how to save money by not wasting food to good recycling practices. The five ‘green doctors’ were all previously unemployed and have been trained by Lambeth’s First Future Jobs fund in energy assessment and draught proofing. Although it is a London-wide project and so not part of the co-op council strategy, it follows the same idea – get the community to work together to tackle problems. But for a real and positive impact on the environment, we’re still going to need strong action from government…or we’ll soon be facing fines from Europe of up to £300 million…

For more info go here

The green doctors

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