A few months ago I posted an article about local markets. In London we have many markets reflecting the diversity of people in London all made up of people having a small business at a low start up rate in a good location where other local people can have a opportunity to use or buy products and services they might not have the opportunity to otherwise. In the last few weeks there has been news that Network Rail and Lambeth Council are “refurbishing” the shops and businesses under the arches that make up the core part of Brixton Market. Some of these businesses have been there for 20-30 years, while not upper class like the West End or Chelsea, offer local residents and visitors alike good quality produce and bargains.
Lambeth Council has been very busy “assuring” local businesses this is a temporary measure. However Lambeth Council’s track record in previous attempts at gentrification of our much beloved Brixton Market have not gone unnoticed. A few years ago the open market along Electric Avenue, so called as it was the first road in England to be lit by electricity, came under the spotlight as Lambeth Council tried to clear the market and close it down. Fortunately it was granted listed status so it is safe, but Lambeth Council is busy turning the arcades into restaurant areas. One by one as the leases come up, rents are raised or terminated.
Where only two years ago fruit and veg stalls vied for custom along with sellers of pots and pans, plates and dishes, clothes, butchers and accessories andenjoyed a heavy footfall, these days the same area has been turned into eateries for the trendy who can marvel at how fortunate they are to come to the centre of Brixton and enjoy its vibrancy. The two fishmongers in Granville Arcade, one Colombian butcher with his wonderful sausages, unbleached tripe and other porcine produce find themselves sticking out like sore thumbs and, sadly the footfall of customers is less than half of what it was previously. The diners coming to sample cup cakes, lattes and pizzas aren’t interested in catfish, sea bream, cod, haddock, crab and other fish.
I don’t do this often, but feel strongly enough that if you enjoy the vibe of markets and grabbing a bargain (who doesn’t?) please go to brixtonmarket.net and sign the petition. I’ll make a point of posting further news on my favourite market from time to time as the more people come and enjoy what’s going on and can take the spirit of what’s happening to their home town, the better. Peace & Love.