CamdenNewJournal

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Outrageous treatment of swimmers

09 September, 2021

‘The City of London’s treatment of swimmers is an outrage’

• WHEN I wrote with jocularity about the “Stalag Luft III” ethos now imposed on the ponds of Hampstead Heath, I little thought that I should so quickly experience it myself, (Administration of the ponds reminds me of those POW films, September 2).

Friday September 3, at about 2pm on aching 83-year-old legs, I made my way by tube and bus and walk across the Heath to the gate of the Highgate pond for swim.

It was about 3.20pm when I arrived; the gate was locked! Inside there were about four swimming in the Highgate pond, which they had entirely to themselves; on my conservative estimation, making it about almost unused and near empty. I counted them as they came out!

With few bemused, ill used and pointlessly frustrated Londoners, who had also arrived for a swim, I was obliged, for no good reason, to wait some 25 minutes for the gate to be opened at 3.45pm. My old legs were aching painfully at that stage.

One waiting potential swimmer left before that, saying that he did not have time for a swim, given the (wholly unnecessary) delay. For him it was an outrage and a shame.

An outrage of the 1871 Hampstead Heath Act which entitles all of us to freely use the Heath and a shame on those (the so-called charitable City of London Corporation) subjecting Londoners to such senseless and meaningless infringement of liberty, in a power-grab of the most dull-minded and witless kind.

Is there no end to this inauspicious institution’s meanness of spirit and evident inability to manage things logically and objectively? That is a rhetorical question which requires no reply, the answer being obvious.

One would hope that the Hampstead and Heath Society might speak out against this ramping up of enclosure of Hampstead Heath, in clear breach of the 1871 Hampstead Heath Act.

ROBERT SUTHERLAND SMITH
Chair, United Swimmers’ Association

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