With this deepening recession I was talked into going ‘South of the River’ recently, times really are that hard these days. Just imagine my surprise after passing the hinterland of Vauxhall and Stockwell when eventually we reached Brixton to find them celebrating a Festival of Litter. Citizens had taken time off from their busy activities to add crisp packets, empty cigarette boxes, and carrier-bags to this otherwise bland and neglected landscape. They fluttered gaily in the bushes and brought colour and texture to pavements and gutters. And to think that elsewhere we stick these objects in rubbish bins.
[T]he city fathers of Brixton must have puffed out their collective chests with pride as their town hall was officially opened by King George V and Queen Mary on the 29th April, 1908 becoming one of the grandest town halls in London. Victorian Brixton was the epitome of suburban living. Fine houses abound, some with servant’s quarters, with grand doorways proclaiming their owner’s wealth and influence.
The fine late Georgian church of St. Matthew’s was one of the four new Lambeth parish churches built in response to the growing population in the early 19th century. Consecrated in 1824, and has an imposing façade created by its architect C. F. Porden and sits opposite the town hall. It also has the ubiquitous Victorian cast iron monument donated by the most prominent family in the area.
So how has this fine borough come to the sorry state? The green outside, what was once a prestigious cinema, the Ritzy, in strewn with drunks and a fine collection of empty cans.
The gutters are gaily decorated with yellow and red McDonald’s boxes.
Don’t any of the residents of Brixton have an iota of their Victorian forebear’s civic pride?
Brixton Town Hall, London
© Copyright Stuart Taylor and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
One thought on “A Festival of Litter”
The answer to your question would seem to be a resounding “No”. However, it is not Brixton’s problem alone. I am often dumbfounded to see people drop litter on the ground even when standing within a couple of paces of a bin, or leaving a drinks can on a windowsill. Who do they think is going to tidy away their mess?
I have seen the litter problem increase over the years. When I was at school, dropping litter was a major misdemeanour and to this day I will still put a sweet wrapper or an unwanted till receipt in my pocket until I can put it in a bin.
There are penalties for littering but like so many penalties, these are ineffectual because they are rarely enforced. So what is the solution? I wish I knew…