Locals win victory for the Brixton Rec

People who swim, play football, lift weights, celebrate their birthdays, learn basketball, teach basketball and more at the Brixton Recreation Centre packed out a meeting with the council tonight and won a promise that centre will be kept open.

After angry interjections from the public, arguments and passionate speeches, leader of the council Cllr Lib Peck was forced to promise that: “the strength of feeling in the room means there is too much [feeling] to really ever get the space to think about closing the Rec. I am now going to say categorically we will keep the Rec.” She had originally said earlier in the meeting that it would be put to consultation and the “decision will have to be made by residents.”

In a draft planning document drawn up by Lambeth council planners and to be put out for consultation, it had been suggested in September that the Rec be sold and a replacement site found for Brixton leisure facilities, or that the Rec be radically refurbished.

The planning document was due to be put to consultation with the public in February. Cllr Peck was keen to emphasise that “there was not ever any intention not to consult”, but she apologised for not holding a meeting directly with Brixton Rec users when the ideas were drafted in the summer.

With about 100 people in attendance, locals reacted angrily to the idea of closing the Rec at the meeting tonight. One woman said: “this building is not ‘iconic’ or ’emotional’; it’s a lifeline for people that keeps people off the street”. Cllr Peck and others at the table were repeatedly interrupted with calls such as “cut to the chase” and “we are Brixton; without the Rec we are nothing.”

Steadman Scott, football coach at the Rec, emphasised the important role sport plays in the Brixton community especially for young people: “What you [the council] should be doing in this place is highlighting the good things, the successful kids…I put back into the community. To see this building knocked down, I will uprise.”

The many different uses of the Recreation Centre, from basketball training to wedding receptions and childrens’ birthday parties were also a key factor in people’s strength of feeling for the Rec as a positive community “hub”.

Jimmy Rogers from the Brixton Topcats, whose basketball club has been training at the Rec since it opened, called the council’s consultation over the summer an “insult”: “If you talk about consultation, make it real.” He said it was a “scandal that Brixton cannot name one famous athlete from Brixton”, calling for a proper sports policy for Brixton.

As well as promising to keep the Rec open, Cllr Peck gave a commitment to trying to make that permanently written into the plans for the future of Brixton. She had been questioned on how she could ensure the decision cannot be easily overturned by subsequent administrations.

Many at the meeting were in favour of improvements to the building and it is likely that the Recreation Centre will undergo a refurbishment to improve accessiblity as well as energy efficiency. Lib Peck told the group: “Does the building have to come down in order to remedy that? No, not at all. Some of the measures that need to be put in place could cost around the £10 million mark, so it’s a serious level of investment. We would be keen to work with you on how we can do that”.

There are currently no detailed plans on how the Rec would be refurbished and the process of consultation will continue in 2013.


  1. The Brixton Rec users and Brixton residents Let Their Voices Be Heard at this meeting.
    Now we must make sure we keep being heard. Rec users look out for where we go from here from Rec User Group Notice board or google our web site and Facebook.
    And a happier new year .

  2. This is tremendous good news, not just that the community asset that the rec. provides has been recognised but that community voices have been heard an properly heeded. Brixton. you are setting an example!

  3. I agree the Rec has to stay; closure would be unjustifiable. It is however not competently run. I’ve been using it for years, and for the last five years for children’s swimming lessons; this September I finally lost confidence in the Rec to deliver lessons which run anywhere near on time or every week. I’ve stuck with them through all kinds of admin and practical incompetence including for two terms emailing them every month to point out that they STILL hadn’t acted on the direct debit instruction I’d given them. Admin incompetence I can deal with, but this year my youngest child has had so many different teachers I’ve lost count, and so few lessons starting on time, with the named teacher and without a load of hassle about who’s in the class and who’s not, or something similar, that I can remember each one. It’s six.

  4. It saddens me to watch how the so called Labour Councillors have destroyed the local fabric of the community in Brixton and the gentrification of the indoor markets and endless coffee shops poping up all over the town center. I attended the recent Brixton Rec meeting and can say that I was not at all impressed with Councillor Lib Pecks replies. Her body language spoke volumes and she looked very much out of her dept, listening to the truth from the real Brixton residents. She claimed that there was a consultation. I do not recall receiving any information about any ‘consultation’ and this is just another example of Lambeth Labour lies. When did Councillor Lib Peck and her Cabinet colleague last use the rec? I bet they are all members of the private Virgin Active or Fitness First.

    Not content with sacking black staff from the housing department, sacking black staff from the Youth Service department, having one token black woman on the Cabinet Team, hatching up a secret plan to close the Brixton Recreation Center which is one of the only local facilities for Black People in Brixton, they have now selected a white man to replace Steve Reed in the Brixton Hill by election. But then again with the recent reshuffle at the town hall, it is clear that the Labour Party in Lambeth are not too keen on black women holding key positions. Vote Green and send a message to Labour.

    The local community refuse to sit back and watch Lambeth Labour destroy Brixton and we have to get the message loud and clear to the Town Hall. Black People are here to stay and will still be here long after you have all swanned off when Brixton is no longer fashionable.

    • Read a great quote recently:

      “Never argue with an idiot as they’ll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience”.

      Best of luck to the Green candidate in next month’s Brixton Hill By-Election, who, unless my eyes deceive me, also appears to be quite the white male – @andrewjchild. Not that the colour of a candidate’s skin has any bearing on their ability to stand up for a community, unless, that is, you are profoundly racist.

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