Kaye Wiggins reports on 2010 in Brixton – a year of elections, closed leisure centres, happy lido days, rising market rents and a jerk chicken festival.
2010 has been a year of change for Brixton. It has said hello to Windrush Square, Starbucks, Chuka Umunna and the co-op council. Here’s a quick round-up of the bigger stories of the year.
The renamed and re-landscaped Windrush Square opened in February. Lambeth Council said it would “create a safe, high-quality public space reflecting our unique and diverse community.” But critics questioned whether an “expanse of concrete” could really reflect Brixton’s character.
Also in February, the council announced its plans to “go co-op”. It has spent much of the year trying to explain to residents what this means, and gather our thoughts about it, sometimes in unorthodox ways. Asking us to put coloured balls in different bucket and stickers on bits of paper was a memorable example.
But what the council claims is a worse-than-expected budget settlement from central government, announced in October, has brought a sense of urgency to the plans. They are due to come into force from spring 2011.
Sticking with politics, the general election in May saw Labour hold its Streatham, Vauxhall and Dulwich and West Norwood seats. Chuka Umunna replaced Keith Hill in Streatham, Kate Hoey kept her Vauxhall seat and Tessa Jowell held onto Dulwich and West Norwood.
A plan to temporarily move Streatham’s ice skating rink to the site of the Pope’s Road car park in Brixton caused unrest this year. In October, more than 100 demonstrators marched to Lambeth town hall to protest about it.
The plan also angered traders on Brixton market, who said using the closed car park as an ice rink, rather than reopening it for parking, could cause them to lose more trade. They had been arguing since February that the closure of the car park in December 2009 had affected their trade, and a Freedom of Information request in October added weight to their argument.
Market traders have had a difficult year, warning in September that rent rises could force more of their shops to close. But there was good news in April, when Brixton’s indoor markets were given listed status.
Shopping in Brixton changed a lot in 2010. Whilst several market stalls have closed down, and independent shops like Lori’s Frothy Coffee have struggled, big brands including Starbucks, H&M, T-Mobile and, most recently, Holland and Barrett, have arrived in the town centre.
But Brixton’s local businesses have had some causes for celebration. The Brixton Pound marked its first birthday in September. And who could forget Charles and Camilla’s surprise visit to the market in July?