Tag Archives: Brixton Market Traders Federation

‘Brixton Experience’: Saturday 26 November

The Brixton Market Traders Federation is launching a month-long celebration of Brixton market with a big event on Saturday 26 November. Around 40 local businesses will set up stalls in the market, representing four categories – food, fashion, creative arts and media, and lifestyle. The businesses must be based within a 400m radius of the station and will include high-street shops as well as independent ones. Named the ‘Brixton Experience’ (bit cringe?), the month-long series of events is funded by the Mayor of London’s High Street Support Scheme Fund (a post-riots initiative to get London businesses back on their feet). It will also include business clinics run by Lambeth Enterprise and workshops with local makers from Makerhood.

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Maundy misery for market traders

Stuart Horwood, Chair of the Brixton Market Traders

Joanna Hughes reports on more problems for the traders as the Pope’s Rd car park is demolished

Brixton market traders who lost their battle to regenerate the Pope’s Road car park for customer parking faced more misery today.

Traders and customers coughed and sneezed from sawdust created by trees being chopped down and compacted on the site of former multi-story car park.

Stuart Horwood, Chairman of the Brixton Market Traders’ Federation, says he phoned Lambeth Council to complain: “The whole area is covered in sawdust and it is affecting customers and traders. It has caused considerable disruption. I’m very disappointed that this has been done without any consideration as to what happens here.”

Unfortunately Lambeth Council was not available to comment on this particular incident.

Lambeth Council’s Master Plan for Brixton commits to parking space in any redevelopment. But in February the council made an exception for retail giant Tesco building a new store and mixed redevelopment on Streatham High Road.

Tesco originally agreed with the council that building work would be done in phases so that Streatham’s popular ice rink could remain open to the public throughout. But despite record pre tax profits of £3.4 billion, Tesco’s request to save time and money by erecting a temporary ice rink for three years on the Pope’s Road car park was approved by the planning committee.

John Gordon, Secretary of the Brixton Market Traders’ Federation said: “It’s an absolute disaster. My takings are down by forty per cent and I feel incredibly angry that this has been done to suit Tesco which has masses and masses of car parking.”

Mr Horwood said: “I am stunned that an agreement with such a major bearing can be amended. It wasn’t knocked together overnight.”

A spokesperson for Lambeth Council said: “Tesco will provide 600 new jobs, 250 new homes and a new leisure centre. 33 parking bays will be built at Buckner Road for market shoppers.”

The traders have endured two-and-a-half months of demolition noise from 8am until 5pm every day. The demolition contractors used water jets to dampen down dust. But traders will still be left with what Mr Horwood describes as a “logistical nightmare” when they have to quit their own parking, also on the Pope’s Road site, on 31 July.

Lambeth Council will reinstate some trader spaces on Pope’s Road. It is also providing overflow car parking for traders at a new car park on Porden Road – also the only planned customer car park – a five minute walk away from the market. Mr Horwood said: “We will have to move from a site on which we can comfortably fit forty-two vehicles with only three blocked in, to thirty-five nose-to-tail spaces where virtually everyone is blocked in.” Where the spaces will be depends on a proper survey of the site which will map it out inch by inch.

A first-in-last-out policy will, Mr Horwood said, “be an absolute nightmare”, as fruit and vegetable traders arrive at 6am and leave at 4pm, while other traders do not start work until 09:30 and leave at 6.30pm.

A spokesperson for Tesco, who are in charge of the new ice rink, said: “This is one of the most exciting regeneration projects in London. It will create hundreds of jobs and will see fantastic new leisure facilities built for the local community.”

But this concession may not be enough. Anxious traders are yet to be convinced that customers with heavy bags will go the distance.

Families come to Brixton market to buy large items such as drums of cooking oil and sacks of rice. With no parking nearby there has been a huge fall off in custom and the market is being subsidised by £50,000 of council funding. Mr Horwood said: “With the cut backs the chances are funding may not continue. Although no one has said to us it is all over.”

He added: “The reality is people don’t mix leisure and shopping. They may buy a banana after they skate for energy but they won’t be doing a weekly shop. We’re on a knife-edge and if we don’t remain commercially viable, we won’t survive.”

And that’s why Mr Horwood has become CEO of the new Community Interest Company under which the traders will be trading from the beginning of the next financial year.

Community Interest Companies were introduced by the Labour Government under the Companies Act 2004, to allow businesses which help the community to run themselves as companies. Registered now at Companies House, the traders are negotiating delegated powers from the council to run the market themselves.

Mr Horwood said: “We can run the market on a much leaner budget and we’ll be free to seek outside sponsorship, re-brand and publicise on websites, shopping bags and door-to-door flyers.”

The traders paid tribute in particular to Brixton Town Centre Director Steph Butcher and to the wider council who have supported the traders’ company.

Mr Horwood said: “It wasn’t a total loss. It raised the profile of Brixton Market Trader’s Federation and we have gained the respect of certain council departments. We fought a good fight based on facts and figures.”

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Opinion: Streatham Hub – “sit up and take notice”

Kevin Rye, from Save Skating in Streatham, explains why he’s campaigning against proposals for the ice rink to be temporarily moved to Pope’s Road in Brixton

‘Streatham Hub’. Two words that strike fear into the hearts of Lambeth Council. The project that is supposed to regenerate the site of the old Streatham ice rink has been a long-time coming, and it has got people in Brixton and Streatham rather hot under the collar.

Indeed, had you been shopping in Brixton Market last Tuesday you would have noticed that the usual fruit and veg stalls were replaced with rivers of plastic sheeting and protest signs from a group opposing the development. The group includes a wide range of interests, from high-street chains, individual businesses and concerned residents, to organisations such as Friends of Brixton Market and Transition Town Brixton, to The Brixton Society and Brixton Market Traders Federation.

It all emanates from the ‘Streatham Hub’. Tesco bought the site of the current Streatham ice rink almost ten years ago and in 2001 agreed to develop a ‘Hub’ with new leisure facilities, a new supermarket and 250 new homes. But last year, Tesco indicated it might not be able to follow through on the plans, in particular building a new ice rink. In they end, they agreed to provide a temporary ice rink between the closing of the old one and the opening of a new one. The big question now is where that temporary rink will be situated. Lambeth Council has proposed the site of a car-park in Popes Road, Brixton, which is deemed vital both by the council itself (in a 2003 Cabinet document) and desperately needed by traders (whose turnover is down 50% while council rents are up a similar amount).

But this plan is in direct contravention of the Section 106 finally signed in December 2008 by Tesco, after years of wrangling. In fact the deal was pretty much tied-up in December 2004, but Tesco have something of a reputation of dragging their heels.

The S106 – ‘community kickback’ as it’s sometimes known – guaranteed ‘continuity of provision’ on the current site of the rink over the period that the new combined rink and leisure centre was to be built. Ken Livingstone as Mayor at the time had insisted on this, and so the deal contained clauses that forced them to build the rink and leisure centre first before anything else.

This would guarantee against the precedent set in Richmond, when a property developer (quelle suprise) bought one of the most famous rinks in the country, paid the Council £2.9m to remove similar guarantees (in excess of £5m in today’s money), then knocked it down, built flats and that was that.

But Tesco came crawling back to the council pleading poverty just three months after they signed the S106 and the idea of a temporary ice rink on Streatham Common was – ridiculously in my opinion – put forward. HOOC (Hands Off Our Common) pointed out that the word ‘Common’ actually meant something, and Brixton soon emerged as the favourite.

The big question that I keep coming back to is quite simply: why does a multi-billion-pound turnover business sign off a deal to develop a site it knows is going to cost ‘x’ amount of pounds during deep financial crisis and a period of collapsing property prices, and then ‘suddenly’ realise three months later that they ‘can’t afford it’? Don’t forget thatwhen they got the council to agree to this ‘relocation’ of such a vital element of the site, Tesco also slung in an application to expand the store space by another 56%.

I’ll make a suggestion. This is about Tesco building one of the biggest stores they’ve got. It’s about sewing up the grocery market – and increasingly non-food items – from London to Brighton; most of all, it’s about them ensuring that they earn the maximum return for their shareholders.

And I’ll suggest to you what it isn’t about: it isn’t about communities being provided with the facilities they need; it isn’t about the continuation of one of London’s most well known and oldest leisure and sporting venues.

No matter what Lambeth say about this development, it’s all about Tesco earning money, Lambeth not having enough, and the council trying to do this ‘deal with the devil’ to make sure it gets a project finally built that’s been on the drawing board for years.

In South London alone in recent years we’ve lost Streatham Bowling Alley, Catford Dogs (Greyhounds), Plough Lane (Football), Richmond (Ice Skating). We no longer have speedway at Wimbledon because the track owner decided it didn’t suit their business plan – the famous Wimbledon Dons now race in exile.

I’m no Nimby, really, but London is in danger of turning into a giant housing estate-cum-supermarket chain.

I’m one of many thousands of people in Brixton and Streatham who is no longer going to sit back and witness this particular story play out. And it’s in my power as a local resident to make sure Lambeth don’t make a total rickets of a very simple proposition. And it’s in yours too.

I haven’t even gone into the aggressive behaviour by Lambeth Council officers towards Streatham residents and ice-rink users; or their scandalous treatment of a local councillor – throwing her out of a meeting (a local authority legal expert said he didn’t know how to deal with the incident off the top of his head as ‘this has never happened before’); or the frankly odd behaviour by Tesco – convening meetings with Streatham businesses without telling local councillors.

Whether or not you like ice skating, whether or not you shop in Brixton, if nothing else I hope the behaviour alone of Tesco and Lambeth makes you sit up and take notice.

If you want to know more, Save Skating in Streatham can be found on Facebook and Don’t Ice Brixton Market have their own website.


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