By Tim Dickens
Brixton residents and business owners have criticised a festival organiser who accused them of failing to support the Brixton community.
The response comes after a comment piece by Lee Jasper, chairman of Brixton Splash.
Jasper threatened to ‘name and shame’ local businesses that failed to respond to requests for sponsorship and offer work placements to support the annual street festival, which takes place in August.
But a row has erupted online on a 10-page thread on the popular Urban 75 forum and on the Brixton Blog with residents and shopkeepers saying it was unfair.
Jasper posted the address and details of one Brixton business, Choice Beauty, in Atlantic Road, on Facebook saying they refused to support the Splash and were “rude to boot”.
But the owner of that business, Ali Shan, 60, today hit back at the attack.
He told the Blog: “I have had businesses in Brixton since 1975 and we have always supported local charities.
“But he [Jasper] doesn’t know how we help the community. We try and keep Brixton the best we can, and pay good council tax. I have trained up at least 10 young people and then given them the lease to different businesses in Brixton.”
Shan says he first opened a butchers in Granville Arcade in 1975 and since then has worked hard to be a success and support his customers. He has investments in a number of beauty, textile and food shops in Atlantic Road and Electric Avenue.
Rosie Lovell runs Rosie’s Deli Café, opposite the record store of Blacker Dread, one of the festival’s founders. She said today she had not offered to sponsor the event.
She said: “It is unfair to name and shame people who haven’t sponsored.”
Lovell said that she was also asked to offer work placements for young people but said that simply “isn’t viable” in her small deli.
A Splash director Jo Birch-Phaure supported Jasper on the Urban 75 forum, but admitted the blog post may have been an error. She posted: “Lee’s mentioning of businesses that have not supported the event is a controversial step and … from a PR background probably not one I would have taken.”
Lee Jasper told the Brixton Blog his article had been written in “frustration.”
He said: “We were going to publish the names of businesses that supported us and businesses that didn’t, but on reflection now we will name and congratulate those who did, rather than name and shame.
“What I was trying to do was initiate a debate around how businesses engage with the community, and I think that is a debate we still have to have. Although this has been a controversial way to start that debate.”
In response to accusations that he has used “bullying” tactics, Jasper, who also sits on the board of the Lambeth Community Police Consultative Group (CPCG) said: “There’s no way I was rude or aggressive to anyone, that’s just not my style.”