[from Hackney Gazette]
BRINGING BACK THE GOOD TIMES
07 August 2008
Businesses hope a festival can bring back the crowds to a Finsbury Park street where criminal gangs once flourished.
The first ever street festival in Blackstock Road on Sunday is part of a wave of measures to cement improvements since one of the largest police raids in the borough’s history.
From 12noon to 6pm, the street will be packed with free activities including street performers, a children’s fun area and a sports zone.
Visitors to the ‘Festival of the Senses’ can also take part in an African drumming workshop, enjoy acoustic music, and taste the rich variety of north African cuisine on offer.
The event has been organised by the charity, FinFuture, which works to improve neglected parts of Finsbury Park, and funded by the London Development Agency and Islington Council.
Despina Johnson, chief executive of FinFuture, said: “We have had a tremendous response from businesses and I can promise this will be a great day.”
The raid in March followed a year-long surveillance operation in which police found the busy shopping street to be at the centre of criminal networks.
Gangs had been using Blackstock Road for money laundering, selling fake documents, and drug dealing.
Since the raid, the community has worked hard to restore the reputation of the troubled street.
Businesses have signed up to a charter denouncing crime and pledging to work towards a better future.
Amine Ali, the manager of the Sim Sim restaurant, said: “This festival has given us a focus and we have worked hard to ensure its success.”
A section of Blackstock Road near Seven Sisters Road will be closed to traffic during the festival.
If you would like more information about the festival, call FinFuture on 020 7272 0492.