Cameron attacks sculpture that’s part of the transformation of Brixton Market

Brixton Village has been transformed bringing jobs and investment to Brixton - but that hasn't stopped the Tories attacking it

Brixton Market has been transformed over the past two years. The old Granville Arcade was full of empty units with an air of dereliction and neglect about it. Today, renamed Brixton Village, it is a thriving hub of micro-businesses bustling with customers all spending their money in our town centre. The Observer described Brixton Village as ‘the most exciting food scene in London’, and it’s brought real regeneration to the area with new businesses, jobs, customers and investment coming to Brixton.

How astonishing, then, that the Tory Prime Minister David Cameron should choose an aspect of this fantastically successful example of local, urban regeneration as the target for a politically-inspired attack this week. Speaking at the launch of the Tory local government campaign in Derbyshire, Mr Cameron criticised Lambeth for ‘wasting’ money that’s transformed the town centre. The particular object of his scorn was the fox and cherries sculpture that forms part of the regeneration scheme. But the value of the investment that’s come to Brixton as a result of the overall scheme is many, many times more than the total cost spent in helping it happen. What a shame the Prime Minister has chosen to play party political games rather than recognise and celebrate the fact that Lambeth Council, working with local entrepreneurs and the market owners, has achieved a prize that’s so far eluded his government by creating the environment for economic growth.

It may be, of course, that some researcher in Conservative Central Office came up with the idea to attack the sculpture in Brixton Market and the Prime Minister made his speech without finding out what’s really going on. So I’ve written to the Mr Cameron and invited him to come down to visit Brixton Village with me. I’ll happily buy him lunch at one of the many exciting micro-restaurants he’ll find there. And I’ll pay in Brixton Pounds (the B£20 note features the fox and cherries sculpture on the reverse) so he can see how a community and its council can come together to promote civic pride and local business in a way that’s truly transformative. It’ll be interesting to see if he accepts my invitation. I’ll be sure to let you know.

You can read Observer food critic Jay Rayner’s review of Brixton market here, or another review from the Metro newspaper here

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About Steve Reed MP

I'm Labour Member of Parliament for Croydon North after being elected in a by-election in November 2012. Before that I was Leader of Lambeth Council since 2006, and was a councillor for Brixton Hill from 1998 to 2012.
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9 Responses to Cameron attacks sculpture that’s part of the transformation of Brixton Market

  1. PK says:

    Surely headline should read “Cameron scoffs at Brixton Market”.

  2. Ro D says:

    The article you are using to slam the PM quotes him as saying that £30k was spent on a sculpture. Maybe that was the information given to him. It doesn’t even mention Brixton Village. Everybody knows how good the regeneration of Granville Arcade is. Perhaps too many people because now it is overrun and over-priced. Both landlord and tenants are gouging their customers with prices not fit for “recession-Britain”. Your heading is ridiculous and is classic opposition politics. Mudslinging for the sake of it. Taking a comment completely out of context, just like you’re having a go at the PM for doing. Why don’t you try and be the bigger man?
    Or are you saying that the fox and cherry sculpture which cost £30k was the single catalyst driving the success of the Brixton Village scheme??

    • cllrsteve says:

      The sculpture is part of the overall regeneration scheme that’s massively benefited the markets and Brixton more widely. The Prime Minister criticised it out of context. In context, given the success of the scheme, his criticisms make very little sense. The scale of investment including new jobs and businesses that the scheme has brought in massively outweigh the total costs involved in making it happen – and that includes the cost of the sculpture. To criticise that as a ‘waste of money’ when in fact it’s paid for itself over and over again was a particulary poor piece of political game playing, and I’m afraid if the PM is going to use his position for ill-informed antics like that then he deserves to be held to account for it.

  3. brixtonbugle says:

    Interesting argument on “gentrification” of “Brixton Village” here; http://www.brixtonblog.com/comment-gentrification-of-brixton-leaves-me-conflicted/4405

    • cllrsteve says:

      Interesting indeed, and I saw your comments in the Standard as well Tim – but I think the regeneration of the markets ultimately benefits everyone in Brixton. New businesses create jobs for local people. More jobs means less crime. The fact that people want to come and live and work here brings money to the area. Many of the new restaurants buy their ingredients from the longer-established market stall holders, or have other work done for them by existing local companies. All the new visitors shop at stalls and businesses right across the market. All of this is good. The alternative – rows of empty market units and dwindling numbers of customers and jobs – is a downward spiral that helps no-one.

  4. Michael Warren says:

    Well said Steve. How typical of the Prime Minister & the Tories. They hate to see the reality of what Lambeth, the community and local business have achieved, instead they try to create Daily Mail headline. The truth is that a Labour administration is creating new opportunities, jobs and improving our area for the better. Keep up the good work.

  5. Tom says:

    David Cameron is completely missing the point of what that investment of money, in the sculpture and overall regeneration, did for the community. Clearly spending that money was not a waste, since Brixton Market is now an extremely bustling area which is a success on an economic and aesthetic level and makes the community proud to be in Brixton. A positive community spirit, a new centre of growth and an area that’s pulling tourists into Brixton – is priceless and in fact, came at a relatively low price when compared with other borough’s regeneration projects.

  6. Emily Says says:

    It is a shame that the Prime Minister has chosen to evoke the ghosts of Lambeth Past, rather than look at what as actually been achieved. The regeneration of Brixton Market is a success story that you are right to be proud of. Rather than snipe, he should be using this as a example of what a Council, community and local businesses can do when they work together.

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