Businesses hit back in Brixton Splash row

Ali Shan has owned businesses in Brixton since 1975

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.

He added “We wouldn’t still be here now if we were rude to our customers.”

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.”





  1. I’d like to point out that as a business we didn’t actually make an active choice to support Brixton Splash or not. I wasn’t even aware of any sponsorship request until Cornercopia was named in Lee Jasper’s Twitter feed, accusing businesses of lack of community engagement. No one who works with us could recall being handed a sponsorship pack or talking with him or any other representative. So i was puzzled, perplexed and quite upset by the tone of the Blog article. It’s frustrating to be named and shamed for something you are not even aware of. From talking with other traders in Brixton Village it appears we were not the only ones unaware.

    Lee did then email us a sponsorship pack when i asked for one, however sponsorship options which range from £300 – £6,0000 are huge to nigh impossible ask of a small business, especially with just a few weeks notice. Small businesses not only have lot’s of demands of few resources, they are really, really struggling to survive on a day to day basis. Such sponsorship would require a lot of forward planning for a small business, or better still collaboration between a few businesses. Perhaps with more notice and positive engagement Brixton Village traders could have come up with a whole load of ideas to support Brixton Splash, not just cash.

    Well thought through and supported mentoring schemes are a great idea and something we have supported in the past and would like to in the future. I couldn’t find any information about this in the sponsorship pack.

    There are many, many ways that businesses can engage with the community and many of the small businesses or blogs that were ‘named & shamed’ are doing things already that perhaps Jasper Lee is unaware of. This is not to say that we can’t do a lot more, and perhaps this whole debate will kick start some creative thinking and new community initiatives.

  2. What you can always do is to prominently thank and acknowledge the firms who DO sponsor you, so people can see for themselves the ones who don’t, and draw their own conclusions.

  3. Give it a rest General Jasper! you are making a fool of yourself. Stop trying to bully people for money. All this stupid talk about a ‘’debate’’ is bare sophistry. Brixtonians recognise a self promoting wide boy when we see one strutting around our streets.

  4. I have named a small number of local businesses that chose not to support Brixton Splash this year. This was not meant as a criticism and listening to feedback and general concerns we will not now be publishing a list of these business.

    I understand that many small businesses and medium sized businesses have many competing demands on their resources. Brixton has some great businesses all at the heart of the community. This has become more evident as a consequence of recent debate. To those businesses who have chosen not to support Brixton Splash, we would hope that they would consider supporting the sponsoring of other local events and organisations that deal with the mentoring young people seeking to get into employment and or considering starting their own business through the many such programmes working in central Brixton.

    Small businesses are a ital part of the local community and can stimulate growth and opportunities, and we urge everyone to support local traders as much as possible – especially, but not only, those who sponsor the Splash.

    How to encourage and support local business are engagement in supporting local community initiatives remains an issue that we intend to return to later in the year. Thank you and do come and enjoy this years Splash.

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