The Brixton Crawl

Another quarter, another Clap’ham Brixton Users Forum. With Streatham and Clap’ham both closed, the Users Forum at the Rec has now become *the* Users Forum for all leisure users in Lambeth.

Apt timing as well, what with the “absolute guarantees” from the Cabinet Member for Culture and Communities that Brixton Rec would re-open on March 15th.


It was another one of those afternoons where I was left twiddling my thumbs with the lovely folk from Greenwich Leisure Limited. I feel rather sorry for the GLL guys. They are operating Streatham Clap’ham Brixton under incredibly trying circumstances. Political interference from our friends at Labour led @lambeth_council gets in the way of any hopes of health and fitness.

Apathy breads apathy. Or maybe the appearance of one lone blogger was once again evidence that the electorate is “happy with the performance of Labour in Lambeth,” as the good Councillor Toren Smith suggested at the recent full council meeting.

It wasn’t the absence of other users that I found annoying. With the pool closed, you can’t expect users to make a special trip, just to find out… why the pool is closed.

It would have been decent of some elected and democratically accountable local politicians to have been present, to explain the further delay. Instead it was tea and biscuits for the GLL boys and me.

Job’s a good ‘un.

And so anyway – back to Brixton…

The headline news coming out of the Rec is that @lambeth_council GLLcan’t commit to a re-opening date” in SW9. That’s the on the record response. Off the record, and the latest Lambeth Cultural Services Briefing, a document that is circulated to selected Councillors, states:

The contractor and architect have revised the work programme to extend the completion date to 16 April. We have looked at what possibilities exist to reduce this including extended shifts and overnight shift work patterns, but while it may be possible to reduce the completion date by a few days, it cannot be guaranteed and the costs may be prohibitive.

The clear advice of the architect is that given the nature to the work to be undertaken we should not seek to reduce this revised timetable. We will of course continue monitor this on a day-by-day basis.

I was told by the nice folk at GLL that the reason for the Rec refurbishment delay is because of “unforeseen circumstances” in the drainage system in the old changing rooms.

Fair point. What is more illuminating however is that the selected Councillors who are privilege to the Lambeth Cultural Services Briefing were told more specifically:

A number of failures in the work previously undertaken during earlier refurbishment were discovered including the lack of mastic and screws to joints in excess water gulleys, the absence of drains for the gulleys and lack of appropriate waterproofing.


A £2.7m election manifesto chest beating refurbishment back in 2007, and then it comes back to bite you on the bum come ballot box time.

We’ve all heard of bodget and scarper builders, but you have to be consistently crap at your job to go and balls up a £2.7m public money spend.


And so with Brixton put on the back burner until mid-April (ish,) attention at the Users Forum turned towards Clap’ham and Streatham. The old site at SW4 is still being cleared ahead of the bulldozers. Two years behind schedule, but at least the woefully titled Future Clap’ham is now happening.

And then we come to Streatham…

The nice GLL folk were unable to add any further details other than those confirmed at the Hub meet last month. This is a crucial week for the Hub. Tesco is deciding if it wants to continue working with @lambeth_council and controlling the leisure investment in SW16.

I have high optimism ahead of the Tesco board meeting taking place on Wednesday. The Lambeth Cultural Services Briefing backs this up, stating:

Following recent high level negotiations, Tesco are now in the final stages of agreeing with their board the scheme that is acceptable to Lambeth. This includes a new supermarket, sport centre, swimming pool, new ice rink, housing and a transport infrastructure.

It is unclear from this statement if this is a genuine insight into finally some positive news coming out of Lambeth involving leisure, or just the usual posturing from the politicians who have been caught with their pants down when trying to tackle Streatham Hub.

I hope it is the former.

I *seriously* hope it is the former.

After the Tesco board meet on 17th March, @lambeth_council will probably provide an update at cabinet on 22nd March. This is an open, public meeting, but with limited speaking rights.

In the meantime, the document confirms:

We are looking at the possibility of temporary facilities being put in place.

Bench presses at The Rookery on Streatham Common remain an option. Put that date in your diary for the Rookery Users Forum sometime on… [never speculate on timetables when it comes to leisure in Lambeth.]

GLL really are very, very nice people though.

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