We thought it worth reproducing the letter beneath to the Camden New Journal about the City of London’s proposals to make cuts to its park services in order to fund follies including the Centre For Music and the so called Culture Mile.
It is reprehensible of the City of London Corporation (Hampstead Heath could face cuts in City of London cash squeeze, July 11, and Swimmers should pay for their dips in the ponds, July 18) to treat Hampstead Heath as a cash cow to be milked to cross-subsidise the financial Square Mile.
Even worse, to suggest charging for the use of its ponds for swimming and bathing, when the fundamental purpose of the 1871 Hampstead Heath Act is to ensure that the Heath remains freely open to Londoners and unenclosed by gates or charges.
In some 150 years, nobody managing the Heath, other than the city, has ever proposed charging, contrary to the objectives of the act; not during wartime, peace, good times or severe economic depressions.
Naturally, it is to be expected that any resurrection of charging will meet with strong and reasoned opposition.
Do they expect people to forget history and that act of parliament? What is wrong with the city corporation’s planning? Why do they not “cut their cloth” according to their means? Do they not know how to forecast or budget?
How to prioritise, existing needs in relation to new city prestige projects of the kind now cited as justification of cost cuts and charging impositions on Hampstead Heath, which exists for all manner of Londoners, rich and poor alike?
It enters new commitments and then pleads poverty, expecting Londoners, many less privileged and hard pressed, to help pick up the tab.
A short time ago the city found many millions to finance extravagant, over-engineered (a one-in-400,000-year probability) uneconomic dams, which no other enterprise, whether commercial or social, could afford, let alone contemplate in a world of scarce resources.
The team running the Heath have done an admirable job in bringing conservation and rusticity to this wonderfully preserved stretch of one-time old Middlesex countryside.
Unfortunately, myopic bookkeepers in the Guildhall, lack the vision to understand an existing obligation from a new one and the relative importance of the legacy of Hampstead Heath or the 1871 Hampstead Heath Act. Where there is no vision, the people perish.
ROBERT SUTHERLAND SMITH, Chairman United Swimmers Association of Hampstead Heath, Widecombe Way, N2
The Heath should not be treated as a cash cow, Letters, Camden New Journal, 1 August 2019: http://camdennewjournal.com/article/the-heath-should-not-be-treated-as-a-cash-cow