Brixton forum anger over Windrush toilets

Written by on July 29, 2016 in Business, Campaigns, Community, Council, News, Planning - 1 Comment
§Rob Goacher displays photographs of people pissing outside his home

Rob Goacher displays photographs of people pissing outside his home

Anger over the continuing lack of public toilets in Brixton and the resulting fouling of homes and streets dominated the annual general meeting of the Brixton Neighbourhood Forum in Pop Brixton last night (29 July).

Campaigner Rob Goacher, founder of the Take The P Out Of Brixton campaign, displayed photographs he had taken of what he said was a Lambeth council employee pissing outside his house and five men pissing in a line – also outside his house.

Helen Hayes, MP for Dulwich and West Norwood, and Lambeth borough police commander Richard Wood

Helen Hayes, MP for Dulwich and West Norwood, and Lambeth borough police commander Richard Wood at the meeting

Local MP Helen Hayes listened as he and others demanded to know why public conveniences in Windrush Square – closed for 30 years – were up for rent when, in March this year, he and other campaigners had been given hope by Lambeth council that they might be reopened.

Forum members said they had been raising the issue with the councillors for at least 10 years.

Tina Jennings, organiser of the Brixton Night Market, was one of the people who visited the Windrush Square toilets with Lambeth councillors and had understood that they might be re-opened.

Rob Goacher wrote a hopeful article for the Brixton Bugle after the visit to the Windrush Square conveniences earlier this year

Rob Goacher wrote a hopeful article for the Brixton Bugle after the visit to the Windrush Square conveniences earlier this year

But, she said, there was, apparently, no money to solve the problem. “So the residents have to put up and shut up”. Their concerns were not being treated seriously, she said. “I was at a meeting last week. I looked out of the window and there was a man peeing against the wall”.

An average Friday night might see more than 20,000 people on the streets of Brixton. But there were no public toilets. “So where do they go?”

The meeting discussed what would happen when, in a few weeks, all-night Tube trains will run to Brixton at weekends. Speakers suggested that there should be toilets in the station. Some, for staff, were there already, said one forum member. “I have used them”.

Brixton Business Improvement District director Michael Smith gave a presentation of the work of the BID

Brixton Business Improvement District director Michael Smith gave a presentation on the work of the BID

Brixton Business Improvement District director Michael Smith said the question had been discussed with Transport for London.

The MP and local police chief Commander Richard Wood, who was also at the meeting, agreed to discuss the problem further with representatives of the forum. No Lambeth councillors were at the meeting.

A council spokesman said: “We have engaged with the community consistently on this anti-social behaviour issue, and ideas have been developed with residents to find solutions. Work to tackle this anti-social behaviour is ongoing.

“In Brixton we provide a free public toilet as well as pop-up urinals. The former WC in Windrush Square has been closed for decades, so we are asking that expressions of interest for renting the site incorporate publically accessible toilets.

“We also have a community toilet scheme in Brixton where businesses open their facilities to the public. And while the onus is on individuals to take responsibility for their actions, we have used splash back paint in key locations to discourage street urination, introduced on-the-spot fines and backed this action with a public awareness campaign.”

Brixton Society chair Bill Linsey promoted the forthcoming Brixton Heritage Festival at the meeting

Brixton Society chair Bill Linskey promoted the forthcoming Lambeth Heritage Festival at the meeting

Forum members also discussed libraries and parks.

Helen McDonald enthralled the audience with her version of Billie Holiday's Strange Fruit

Helen McDonald enthralled the audience with her version of Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit

They were entertained by inspirational rap from Michael Groce and a stunning performance by Helen McDonald of songs made famous by Billie Holiday.

 

About the Author

Alan Slingsby moved to Brixton just as the 1981 uprising began. His nearest pub was the Effra and nearest off licence the Frontline — long gone in an earlier wave of closures of treasured community establishments. He works out of an office in St Matthews and before that the Bon Marché. Has edited newspapers for the National Union of Students and National Union of Teachers. Now makes a living designing magazines and books and anything else people will pay him for.

One Comment on "Brixton forum anger over Windrush toilets"

  1. NGW July 29, 2016 at 11:38 pm · Reply

    The idea of changing the habits of a lifetime by ditching Labour and fielding and electing only independents in the next council elections was interesting

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