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Drugs, crime and litter doom Brixton Splash 2016

The one-day street festival, once played by Katy B, will not go ahead by order of Lambeth Council

By Jon Chapple on 16 Feb 2016

Brixton Splash, Coldharbour Lane, Richard Pope

Coldharbour Lane during Brixton Splash 2010

image © Richard Pope

There will be no Brixton Splash in 2016.

Although its website is still counting down to 7 August (172 days, 22 hours, 41 minutes and 13 seconds to go!), the south London event won’t return until at least 2017 after having its application rejected by Lambeth Council.

Brixton Splash is a non-profit street festival featuring live music, food stalls, arts workshops and a craft market. Katy B, from nearby Peckham, performed in 2010.

More than 40,000 people attended the 2015 event, which attracted a record number of complaints relating to noise, crime and mountains of “disgusting” rubbish. Lambeth Council also alleges there was a “huge amount of drug-taking”, even among the volunteer stewards.

The council wants to install a new board ahead of the 2017 festival.

A statement from the festival claims that there is “a separate agenda at work” and that “a catalogue of evidence has been building up over the last few months which point to various stakeholders, including the council, wishing to either stop Brixton Splash or to completely change this community carnival’s format”.

“Brixton Splash is a community organisation run for the community by the community,” it says. “It shall not allow any individual nor organisation to force people on to our board…

“Lambeth’s dwindling financial support and physical support over the last few years shows its true feelings towards the event.”

“Splash has become a victim of its own success, […] the event was too big, too uncontrolled and the cost of policing and cleaning up too expensive”

In an open letter signed by Lib Peck, leader of Lambeth Council; Ros Griffiths and Be Atwell, two of the event’s co-founders; Ade Sawyer of black/ethnic minority-focused management consultancy Equinox; Tina Jennings of Brixton Night Market; Metropolitan Police’s Richard Wood; Devon Thomas, chairman of the Brixton Neighbourhood Forum and Black Heritage Group; and Paul Reid, artistic director of the Black Cultural Archives, Lambeth Council said it is “aiming for a Splash event for 2017”.

“The year break is important because since those early days [in 2006] Splash has become a victim of its own success, with ever-increasing numbers coming to Brixton,” says the letter. “That has brought its own problems. Last year, there were a large number of complaints from residents and businesses who expressed concerns that the event was too big, too uncontrolled and the cost of policing and cleaning up were too expensive.

“Quite simply, we want Splash to return to its original objectives: to be a safe, community-led event which is a positive boost for Brixton. As a result Lambeth Council, along with partners including police, transport and business, have turned down the application for Brixton Splash 2016.

“Our objective is to bring back a better, safer organised Splash event in 2017.”