Residents of central Brixton have launched a campaign– Sleepless Brixton – to demand action to control increasing levels of noise and anti-social behaviour. This is why …
Sleepless Brixton is a group of long-term local residents of Brixton town centre who want to be able to sleep again.
The heart of Brixton is a diverse community. It’s a place where people live, work, shop, raise their children and grow old.
We love this place and many of us have been here for decades, without a problem. We have had fun here and we like the way other people come to Brixton to have fun too.
But in the past year or so, things have changed and are now so bad that we can no longer sleep. From Thursday night to Monday morning, there is an influx of people and ever-louder amplified noise. The visitors are shouting, screaming and peeing their way round our streets until the early morning – late night revellers who just don’t realise we live here.
Residents are becoming ill. We don’t feel safe and happy in our homes. Often we dread coming home on the weekends. The streets we live in are being treated as a party venue and a toilet.
Sleepless Brixton developed from people who kept meeting in the middle of the street, in the middle of the night, trying to talk to amplified buskers at the end of Electric Avenue or in front of the tube. Residents from Electric Avenue and Tunstall Road, we got together to form Sleepless Brixton.
Since setting up our Facebook page, people from Atlantic Road and Brixton Road have been in touch. It has become clear the scale of the problem is much bigger and the number of people affected much larger, than we first thought. We want to work for all the residents of Brixton – not just push problems away from one street to another.
The stories of three of our members illustrate what we are suffering.
Long-time Electric Avenue resident …
I choose to live in a market, and I love it. But after the last street clean at 10pm or so it used to be quiet. Visitors to places like the Dogstar, 414, The Albert or the Fridge (showing my age here) walked home or to the Tube down the main roads or quietly down the short cuts through Electric Lane or Avenue. But on a Friday night we had, at its peak, four different sets of amplification going on along Brixton Road – including Ed Sheeran lite, distorted speaker reggae and group karaoke.
This started around 11pm and went on until 3am or so. A couple of us went down at midnight and had a chat with one group at the mouth of Electric Ave. They were sweet and apologetic. But by the time it was 1am and the other three people with heavy amplification had started up, noise levels rose again.
All the three groups of buskers were regulars. They simply don’t care.
One, in particular, is threatening. He said that because “you live in crappy flats and I live in a house” it was OK that we didn’t sleep.
Lack of enforcement and the night Tube means the hardest core buskers are now those working the streets here. They have driven off the nice ones, who were also the ones who were thoughtful and responsive to us.
A major consequence of all this amplification is that people walking down the streets raise their voices. They shout and scream their way down Electric Avenue.
Places like Market House and Wahaca have recently started to open their doors and blast heavily amplified music down both ends of Electric Lane. Why shouldn’t they? It is already so loud you wouldn’t believe people actually lived here.
Electric Avenue resident …
‘My three year old daughter and I are kept up until the early morning by screaming and howling revellers passing down Electric Avenue most days of the week. It wasn’t like this two years ago, and it has started affecting our health immensely.
“My daughter has developed an extreme sensitivity to noise, and has been diagnosed as having special educational needs as a result. I’ve thought about moving, but can’t afford it.”
Eighteen-year resident of Brixton …
I have lived in Brixton for the last 18 years, and spent five years here in the 1980s. I’m a boxing coach and helped to set up the Afewee team that trains in Brixton Rec and coach at other London clubs. I’m also a singer-songwriter and live with my partner on Electric Avenue.
The noise is unbearable: screaming, shouting. There’s nuisance and anti-social behaviour at least four nights a week.
People are peeing everywhere. People go into Brixton Beach peacefully, but from 9pm onwards they start coming out noisy. Not everyone goes home – a lot of them loiter in groups. Sometimes it can go on until 2 or 3 am.
We can’t use our front bedroom. We can only get some sleep because we use the back room. Two of my adult children came to stay here and they couldn’t bear the noise. My son was convalescing and the noise made him worse.
People use the street as a toilet. There is street cleaning at 5.30 in the morning.
Brixton Road has descended into chaos now. The crowds of people on Fridays and the weekends are like the West End. The thoroughfare gets blocked. I’m not sure Brixton was built for this many people.
People can get threatening. There’s the potential for public disorder.
My partner asked a guy to stop peeing in the street, saying “We have to live here”. He said in a posh voice: “Well move somewhere else, then!”
I think he would have got even nastier with her but he saw I was there. I can’t afford to get in a fight, as I’d lose my licence. But people come here and act in a threatening way and, sooner or later, they will end up hurting someone.
Brixton’s always been a residential area. We are Brixton. Why should we move out?
If you want to keep Brixton as a place where people of all ages and backgrounds can live, then please get in touch. Let’s stop Brixton becoming a theme park for the worst kind of drunken tourism.
If you are affected, please sign up