in Community Safety, Regeneration, Shaftesbury

Philip Beddows and Jenny Browne at the Clapham Junction clean-up this morning

Like every other decent person I was following what was happening in Clapham Junction and elsewhere last night with horror.

But while there has been and will be plenty written about last night (including, I suspect by me) I know that what is really important is not what happened in Clapham Junction last night – but what is happening in Clapham Junction now, and what will happen tomorrow and then every day after that.

Last night I started organising a #riotcleanup with people I know. It was quickly apparent this morning that pretty much everything that could be cleaned had been cleaned, but passing through Clapham Junction this morning on my way to a meeting with Wandsworth businesses and the police I was astounded at the volume of people still there, happily waiting for a chance to help clean up.

And in the meeting with businesses they were impressively focused not on recrimination, but on the future. Not on bemoaning the wanton destruction, but on how we quickly get back on our feet and then improve even further.

And later, returning through Clapham Junction, who couldn’t help but be uplifted seeing the numbers of helpers had grown massively. The team of brush-wielding Junctionites had become an army.

This is one of those days when you stop believing that London is the world’s greatest city because you KNOW London is the world’s greatest city.

We are not a city of a few mindless thugs and their vacant followers.

We are, instead, a city of magnificent people – both new and old – who collectively stand for something that is worth far more than an entire store of sports fashion or flat-screen TVs.

We should never lose sight that whatever shame can be attached to the riots it is as nothing compared to the pride we can all feel in our response today, tomorrow and every day after.

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  1. It’s been really heartening to see the community coming together, the atmosphere at the junction yesterday was really unique.  Who says London’s inner suburbs are full of commuters and don’t have a soul?  The Clapham Junction cleanup is apparently on the front page of the New York Times.   
     The next step is for us all, and importantly the Council, to help the businesses that have been affected get back on their feet quickly.  The sight at 1st stop & DJ stop on Lavender Hill is really upsetting – everything has been looted, the shop that was refitted two months ago has been terribly vandalised, and the sight of the etam picking up the remaining scraps of what was a thriving business is heartbreaking.  Woods Radio – another long established local business – ransacked, and complete with burnt papers littering the doorway –  was a terrible sight.  And of course the Party Store, famous across London and a busienss that started here from nothing.  Just to name three!   These are quality local businesses that have steadily built up over the years, without a huge conglomerate underpinning them, and the next few weeks will be absolutely critical for them.  I hope the Council can pull every string possible to get them cash and support fast to get back in business, and go door-to-door to help everyone affected deal with the red tape and get insurance help fast (using the Riot Act provision if necessary for the uninsured or underinsured).  And down the line, we need to ensure that businesses can stay safe (it’s extraordinary that Debenhams still doesn’t have roller shutters; which I understand is due to some sort of planning restriction – regardless of planning laws, we simply must allow every shop to install at least the chain link ones).  But far, far more importantly, we all need to vote with our feet and support these businesses with our wallets – they are the core of the community, and I think we’re now more aware than ever of just how much they matter, and just how fragile they can be.