The response after the disorder in Clapham Junction has been amazing. But one thing that is starting to become clear is that there isn’t quite the focal point that last Tuesday’s cleanup had.

On Tuesday it was obvious, the streets needed cleaning. But now it’s less obvious. So people are still itching to ‘do something’ but there are lots of different ideas on what that ‘something’ might be.

Many are suggesting events that will allow the community to come together. Others are suggesting fundraising to help businesses or residents affected back on their feet. Others are suggesting something that will help work with Battersea’s less affluent areas or with local young people.

One of the key roles the council can play in this is as the facilitator and enabler: and thus Battersea Buzz was born.

It’s been done quickly, but we will be hosting a meeting for anyone interested at 7pm, Tuesday 16 August in Clapham Grand (who have generously provided the venue).

The name might not be the best marketing, but we felt the ‘buzz’ represented a lot of the positives:

  • there’s the link to Battersea with the reference to bees (as seen at BAC, the old Battersea Town Hall),
  • it alludes to people coming together talking and sharing a common purpose,
  • most of all it represents the real buzz and excitement in the community in response to Monday night’s trouble.

The purpose is for people to come together, meet, share and have ideas… basically, to see what magic happens.

We’re still finalising the format, but it will be designed so the community remains in the driving seat.

It is open to everyone, but could you please register using the EventBrite site (‘tickets’ are free) so we have an idea of numbers and can get a feel for who is coming. You can also get a ‘not attending’ ticket to register your interest and share any ideas you have or skills you can offer.

I’ve just been into the council’s Community Safety division to thank some of the staff for their response to Monday’s disruption.

It’s all too easy to overlook those that often work unseen, or who you might just think it’s their job. However, I felt it worthwhile publicly noting their work over the past few days which have been anything but their normal job.

They have, for example, been volunteering to take shifts in our CCTV control room so it can work round the clock (it normally closes after peak hours).

They have become the council’s central point of contact for anyone who wants to volunteer (and if you want to add your name to the list you can email

They’ve been hard at work collating and distributing information from many sources to whoever needs it, the council’s civil disorder web pages and the Safer Wandsworth Twitter feed and Facebook page.

There’s even one person in there who has returned from holiday to help out!

I was responsible for Community Safety for five years, and was always proud of what the Wandsworth team did. The past week hasn’t surprised me, because I knew they would rise to the occasion. But hearing about how they all pulled together and went above and beyond their usual duties touched me. Wandsworth is incredibly lucky to have such dedicated staff, and I had to offer them a small bit of publicity they so richly deserve.

Persian cooking at Tarragon

Going through Clapham Junction is surreal experience. I went along it early on Tuesday morning and for a large part of it you would be hard pressed to know anything had happened. The council, businesses and some fleet-of-foot glaziers had tidied up so well it was business as normal for most. Even the cordoned off area didn’t seem that bad, largely because the cordon kept you so far from the worst of the damage.

Now you can get to the central Clapham Junction area you can see more of the destruction. This morning it was a mix of boarded up shops, semi-permanent broadcast locations and a bit of traffic congestion caused by ranks of tradesmen’s vans supporting the repairs being carried out.

But the key thing is that Clapham Junction is open for business. Even the boarded up shops are open, serving customers while they wait for new windows.

And this is a key message: Clapham Junction is open, and we should be shopping there.

The response on Tuesday was fabulous and inspiring. But the damage is not just cosmetic; many businesses – especially the independent businesses – will be hurt by Monday’s vandalism and looting.

Many will be having long and difficult discussions with insurers, and many will find that they aren’t covered for riot.

Even those that escaped unscathed will have concerns that cash-flow, still recovering from the recession, will suffer if Clapham Junction’s reputation has suffered.

And, could anyone be blamed for wondering if it’s worth going on when some of the people you serve can suddenly decide they are entitled to come and help themselves to your stock, trashing the place while they are at it?

After the clean-up, the one thing that will really help, is that we all shop local.

That doesn’t mean we all have to spend every penny locally or close our Amazon accounts. But if we all decided to choose a local restaurant instead of heading into town or did our convenience shopping near home in SW11 and not near work in the West End or City. The cumulative difference would be enormous.

I’ve been trying to make my difference over the past few nights. On Tuesday I had a fantastic meal at the relatively new Tarragon. Last night I went along, with some visiting American friends, to the excellent Donna Margherita – one of London’s best pizzas. I’m not sure where tonight’s meal will be, but it’s not like Lavender Hill doesn’t offer plenty of choice.

Of course, that isn’t sustainable. I’m just too old for so many nights out and am already feeling the pace. But from now on whenever I reach for my wallet outside of Battersea I’m going to ask myself a simple question: “Could I buy this in SW11?”

I’d like to challenge everyone to do that too.

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.

80 years ago, on people don't know where Battersea is, and the trains aren't any faster

Last time there was a coalition between the Liberals and the Conservatives was 1922. It didn’t end well, at least it didn’t end well for Lloyd-George. But some things were better.

Imagine you were at Victoria and needed to get to Clapham as quickly as possible. You’ve heard trains go from here to Clapham Junction, so you pull out your trusty copy of Bradshaw’s Railway Guide and look up the times…

Still probably too close to Clapham for some

Hold, what’s that, there’s a little indicator next to Clapham Junction. Better check what that refers too. Hold, it says here that Clapham Junction is actually “Mid. Battersea, 1¼ miles from Clapham.”

Phew, were it not for the accuracy of Bradshaw you’d have found yourself in the middle of Battersea.

And it wasn’t just Bradshaw’s Railway Guide.

Even in 1947 SW11 was in Battersea

Imagine it’s 1947, for whatever reason you find yourself away from home, perhaps working and staying in a guest house, you’re curious exactly where you are. You know the address is London SW11, so you grab an RAC guide you always have in your battered leather suitcase…

Ooo, that’s interesting, SW11 is Battersea it says here, SW4 is Clapham. Now you know where you are you might pop to the wonderful Battersea Park you’ve heard so much about, and you’re so glad you haven’t ended staying in that horrible SW4.

Asda Clapham Junction, in Battersea. Not Clapham

Of course, in this wonderful modern world in which we live you could probably just pull out your phone and look it up on the internet. There are plenty of sites that can do it, like this one for Asda that correctly says it’s Battersea.

If only their store manager had made the effort to check.

I have to offer huge thanks to Ian Freeman for sending me the scans. It’s perhaps worth mentioning that, although not a Battersea resident, he’s on the side of right in this battle, and won the SW11 Literary Festival Slogan for Battersea competition with “Battersea: It’s the dog’s”

If you want to download the full size scans feel free:

I had a response from Asda following my complaint about them branding their Lavender Hill store ‘Clapham’.

Hello James.

Thank you for contacting ASDA about the name we have given to our ASDA Clapham store.

I’m sorry to learn of your disappointment at ASDA naming the store Clapham instead of Battersea. I can assure you ASDA welcome all customers, whatever there background. We certainly don’t want to offend anyone with the name of the store.

Having spoke to the General Store Manager, he confirmed the store is in Clapham, this is the reasoning for the name of the store. Also if we were to change the name of the store it would lose it’s identity in the local area.

Again, I’m sorry to hear of your disappointment, I hope all your points have been covered in this email. If you require any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kind Regards

Will Hayton
ASDA Service Team

I only moved to Battersea 13 (fourteen, if you round up) years ago so I’m quite happy to admit I’ve been wrong all this time and have somehow fooled myself into…

Hold it. No. Of course I’m not wrong. Even as a relative newcomer I have seen enough evidence, both objective and subjective, to know I live in Battersea and the Asda store is in Battersea. Of course areas change, but not at the whim of one person (unless Wal-mart have staged a coup d’etat I missed and their manager is now some sort of regional governor). I could pretend I’m typing this in Manhattan. Or on the moon. But that doesn’t make it so.

Happier times: 2008, when people knew where they were
I will be replying to Asda, but decided to hold off my reply to calm a little. The odd thing is that the more time passes the angrier I get about Asda’s attitude.

I’d love to know the manager’s connection with the area prior to managing the store. Very often in retail the managers (because of the nature of their career progression) manage stores some distance from their home – this is particularly true in London where moving can be expensive. But even putting that aside…

Has he had a chat with one of my neighbours who obviously mistakenly believes she has lived in Battersea for the best part of 80 years – all that time a few hundreds yards from the store (or the railway yard that preceded it).

Or perhaps he’s raised it with the council, who – in 2008 – mistakenly passed a motion that highlighted SW11 is Battersea (opens PDF).

I’m sure he’s popped into the Royal Mail delivery office next door to the store and told them how wrong they are to call themselves the Battersea Office. And while he was at it had a word with Battersea Library and Battersea Arts Centre. I can only imagine how foolish they must all have felt having the wrong names all these years.

And I’m sure they’ve had a chat with their press office and the previous store manager. Pointing out their total ignorance when in 2008 they changed the name of the store to reflect it’s true location of Clapham Junction, Battersea.

It seems an age ago, in the early days of this blog, that I celebrated Asda ‘moving’ to Battersea. Unfortunately it appears they have decided Battersea isn’t for them, and have moved back to Clapham.

Following the lead of a few on Streetbook I’ve complained to Asda about this using their contact form. Here’s what I said:

I’m disappointed that following your recent refurbishment of your SW11 store you decided it brand it Asda Clapham.

It’s unfortunate because it isn’t in Clapham, it’s some distance from it. In fact the SW11 postcode puts you firmly in the heart of Battersea (the post office neighbouring your store, or the Battersea Delivery Office, would be happy to confirm, I’m sure).

What makes it doubly disappointing is that it’s less than two years since you responded to local complaints and named the store ‘Clapham Junction, Battersea’ to accurately reflect its location.

While I understand the confusion, being near to Clapham Junction, there are several other local landmarks that give away the true location; you can see Battersea Library from your car park. Then there’s Battersea Arts Centre just up the road (it used to be Battersea Town Hall).

‘Clapham Junction’ was a marketing decision. At the time it was built Clapham was seen as more up-market than Battersea, so the Clapham label was attached to help attract development to the area.

But today people are proud to live in Battersea, it’s a much nicer neighbourhood than Clapham. Given the history behind the naming, I can only assume that if you don’t rename it’s because you believe the community you serve is so downmarket you want to avoid association with them! Surely this can’t be true and you have plans to correct the name.

I’ll post any reply I get.

The system, which has already been introduced to Tooting and Balham town centres is fairly straight-forward – basically businesses will need to fulfil their legal duty to have a trade waste agreement (it’s amazing how many businesses don’t, leaving the council to collect their illegally dumped rubbish) and will only be allowed to dump their rubbish during two defined, two-hour slots – one during the day and one during the evening.

The system is remarkably simple but, I think, something of an innovation. It really cuts down on the amount of rubbish on streets by helping minimise the time from it being put out to being collected.

It’s made a huge difference to Tooting and Balham’s streets, and the council has learnt from the implementation in both, so it hopefully won’t be long until it’s making a difference in Clapham Junction as well.

The council's community safety team (without me getting in the way)

I was astounded at the scale of yesterday’s Northcote carnival. Although I’d seen the programme and heard about some of the preparations (and, of course, went last year) I wasn’t quite ready to see almost the entirety of Northcote Road so dramatically transformed.

I spent a few hours with the council’s community safety team and local police offering advice and balloons to anyone interested (to be fair, my advice was usually to refer to the relevant expert there) accompanied by a police DJ!

But I also managed a nice lunch at Vito’s (I rarely get that far up Northcote Road) and a good few strolls around to take in the atmosphere of a huge and incredibly fun event.

I cannot imagine how many thousands of people visited throughout the day and evening, all in good spirits and with the weather staying good – despite some threatening grey clouds – I can’t imagine the organisers could have hoped for better. A fantastic day.

I’ve no idea how many people who read this blog shop at Waitrose on St John’s Hill in Clapham Junction, but if you do you will know about their Community Matters scheme.

Essentially each month, the store nominates three local charities and they each receive a share of £1,000 in proportion to the green tokens placed in their pots by shoppers.

I noticed today that Battersea Summer Scheme is one of this month’s charities.

The Summer Scheme is run each year by Battersea Crime Prevention Panel and basically runs a series of events, expeditions and excursions for young people in Battersea during their summer vacations. The basic idea being to ensure they are engaged in positive pursuits and not in a position in which they are at risk of being a victim of crime, or a perpetrator of crime.

They are totally reliant on donations of time and money to run the scheme each year – and while I know the other two causes are worthy – when you are at the check-out make sure you get your token and pop it in their slot.