Brixton Splash 2016 cancelled as Lambeth Council cite £500,000 policing cost and ‘flagrant drug use’

Annual street party Brixton Splash, which celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2015, will not go ahead in 2016 after Lambeth Council rejected its application last week.

Lambeth Council pulled the plug after last year’s event – which around 40,000 people attended – resulted in 40 arrests and drew complaints about crime, littering, noise and overcrowding.

A council statement said that the event, due to take place on August 7, had become ‘a victim of its own success’ and that they are keen for the event to return in 2017, calling this year’s cancellation a ‘pause’.

But Brixton Splash organisers complained the decision was symptomatic of a trend towards gentrification in the area.

Organisers accused the council of planning to stop this year’s Brixton Splash, even before the 2015 event was held, in a statement released on February 2.

“I think there’s another agenda,” said Brixton Splash director Shezal Laing.

“Brixton is changing, it’s changing quite rapidly and the local community are not happy with the changes that are taking place right now.

“I think there’s a new vision for Brixton, the council has a new vision for Brixton and I don’t think Brixton Splash fits that vision.”

Brixton Splash’s statement accused Lambeth Council of ‘railroading’ the event, saying: “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.”

But co-founder Ros Griffiths agreed that last year’s festival had gotten out of hand and the event had become removed from its original ethos.

Last year’s event required more than 900 police officers to be deployed at an expense of around £500,000, as well as requiring an additional £15,000 to be spent on the clean-up, which took more than 24 hours.

Ms Griffiths said: “Last year the local reaction was that it has lost direction.

“Traders were complaining, residents were complaining and there was a problem. The event got too big and moved away from what it was meant to be about.”

A Lambeth Council spokesperson said: “Sadly, last year’s event became a victim of its own success and we need to pause it for this year, let the community take it back to its roots as a safe, fun event for everyone with professional organisation.

“Road closures, a lack of stewards and inadequate crowd control have added to a sense from local people that the event is too big, too uncontrolled and potentially dangerous.”

Picture courtesy of Jason Cobb, with thanks

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