Monday, 11 April 2011

Brixton 30 years on

" Celebrations" if that is the word to mark yesterday the 30th anniversary of the Brixton riots; an event I remember well. The chaos and the damage in the heart of the town was appalling. There is nothing pleasant about a riot I thought as I joined others in surveying the damage. I'd been living in Brixton for 3 years by then.

It was those events that largely spurred me to stand for the Council in the 1982 elections and found myself, somewhat surprisingly , elected to represent the good citizens of Clapham.

Brixton is now a very vibrant and successful place to live, why it even attracts the likes of the leaders of the third sector there! Seb Elsworth, Nick Wilkie and Matthew Thompson for example!

One of the strong lessons of subsequent events and the massively influential Scarman report , was how crucial the role of the third sector to community cohesion.

The council and its services were dominated and led by white people and the services often alienated the strong local black community. The black community back in 1981 had developed their own black led organisations and support structures. It was only by working with those community led bodies and with national charites that Brixton could be revitalised.

The role of the third sector in redevelopment and revitalising civic life has been uncommented and unresearched. It should be better known.

I'm now off to see Sir Bob Kerslake , the new Permanent Secretary at DCLG; to talk about how our sector can play a much bigger role in delivering services and developing communities.

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