CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Primrose Hill to be fenced off due to anti-social behaviour

Holborn and St Pancras MP Sir Keir Starmer demanded action from the Royal Parks

20 May, 2021 — By Bronwen Weatherby

A ‘rave’ on Primrose Hill during the coronavirus lockdown

“TEMPORARY park gates” could be installed around Primrose Hill as early as this weekend following discussions over how to curb nuisance behaviour.

Holborn and St Pancras MP Sir Keir Starmer held a videocall meeting with residents, councillors and police last week and then had what was described as a “robust” but “constructive” conversation with the Royal Parks’ chief executive Andrew Scattergood on Friday.

It was agreed barriers could be put up around the park as soon as possible, while talks continue over a long-term solution.

Mr Starmer said: “Primrose Hill is a fantastic green space, boasting one of the best views of the London skyline and we are very lucky to have it in Camden. “Many people have enjoyed meeting up with friends and family there as lockdown has eased. However, serious anti-social behaviour from a selfish minority is taking a terrible toll on the surrounding community.”

The New Journal has reported over the last year how residents catalogued hundreds of complaints about night-time parties, public urination, litter, drug dealing and violence.

Eleanor Sturdy, who lives nearby, said: “I think we’re looking forward to seeing what happens. As the problem was allowed to build up so much, it’s going to take time. This temporary measure is very much needed.”

Community activist Phil Cowan said the measure would “act as a visual deterrent” to gatherings, adding: “I think everyone agrees a ‘circuit breaker’ of this kind is needed at least over the summer then in the autumn we can revisit it.”

But, this latest development has sparked anger among those opposed to the idea of gates.

Last year’s message in the grass on top of the hill

Amy McKeown, one of the people behind the ‘Keep Primrose Hill open’ online petition said holding a meeting without the presence of anybody opposed to gates at the park was “underhanded”.

She said: “This is something that should be discussed as a community, and that meeting has now led to temporary gates being installed. So that has not gone down well at all.

“The concern is that if temporary barriers are put up it’ll be seen as the solution and permanent gates will follow. If that happens, we feel there’s a strong possibility Primrose Hill will start to be closed at dusk throughout the year and so many people do not want that.”

Sir Keir Starmer has met with park chiefs

Ms McKeown also said she felt the scale of parties in the park and the prevalence of knives was being overstated.

A meeting at Primrose Hill Library on Saturday will discuss organising a warden scheme for volunteers wishing to clear litter and try to temper anti-social behaviour.

Neighbourhoods chief Inspector Paul Clarke said: “Some people will be upset the park is closing and won’t be able to go there at certain times. The problem is local residents have had their lives and wellbeing degraded to such an extent and that needs to be weighed against people’s freedom to go there.”

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