CamdenNewJournal

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Anglers hit with night-time fishing ban after reports of parties at the ponds

Fishing enthusiasts ‘victims of youths’ pond parties’

02 September, 2021 — By Harry Taylor

A notice warning that after-dark fishing has been suspended

ANGLERS on Hampstead Heath are complaining about being cast aside after night-time fishing was banned at ponds near the Vale of Health in a row about anti-social behaviour.

The decision was taken after months of complaints this summer about noise from those looking to make a late-night catch, as well as concerns about mess being left behind, including faeces and used toilet paper.

Fears were raised with the the City of London Corporation – managers of the Heath – which took the decision force them to down their rods.

The first enthusiasts, including the Hampstead and Highgate Angling Society (HAHAS), heard was a bulletin posted online saying that it would be forbidden.

Chair of the HAHAS Robert Gibbs said: “It’s all down to one or two youths fishing or partying next to the ponds. The residents have every right to be annoyed if someone is causing a rumpus in this beautiful part of the Heath, but now all of the anglers are being pushed out because of anti-social behaviour from one or two people, rather than them talking to us about it.

“We’re unhappy at what’s happened. It should have been sorted out by the staff, or talking to us, rather than taking the easy route and blaming all of the anglers. We know who is responsible and we’ve told the constabulary.”

Fishing on the Heath is only allowed between June 15 and March 15.

Anglers need a permit from the City, as well as a fishing licence from the Environment Agency.

Anglers were unhappy last summer after the soaring temperatures saw dozens of people risk trying to cool off in ponds, disrupting swimming. Warnings have been given before, discouraging people trying to swim in the ponds.

Mr Gibbs, 70, and other members of HAHAS have also run fishing courses for youngsters from nearby primary schools.

Ellen Solomons, chair of the Vale of Health Society, said she had heard complaints from residents whose homes back on to the pond, at the south-east side of the pocket of the Heath.

“People have been getting fed-up with being kept up every night,” she said. “The Heath staff were having to clear up every day. I bumped into one ranger who was clearing up a barbecue and he said to me, ‘how many by-laws can you break in one night?’”

Mr Gibbs added that he thought the City should have spoken to him or his group before the ban last month. He has emailed the City with a complaint at how the decision was taken.

He added: “It was a fait acompli. There was no consultation. It’s one or two people out of three-hundred people registered to fish on the Heath. You wouldn’t ban all dogs on the Heath over one or two bad owners, or after the drugs and skunk I’ve smelt being smoked behind me while fishing, you wouldn’t ban all teenagers would you?

“People are being put off by how they’re being treated by the City. It just doesn’t feel like they care about fishing. The numbers are down by half now compared to what they were last year.”

A spokesperson for the City of London Corporation said: “We have temporarily suspended night fishing at the Vale of Health pond following complaints from residents and concerns regarding anti-social behaviour.

“We are working closely with the Hampstead and Highgate Angling Society and will consider a return to night fishing as soon as possible.”

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