CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Let sleeping dogs lie with Hampstead Heath regulations

07 December, 2017

Beady has been banned from the Highgate Men’s Pond

• THE management of Hampstead Heath seems to be one disproportionate thing after another.

No sooner has the disproportionate dam solution (over-engineered dams built at great cost against a one-in-400,000-year storm event) moved along, than we now appear to have the disproportionate harrying of a very small number of dog owners, who leave their canine companions sleeping quietly on the concrete compound floor, for half an hour, while the former goes for a dip with the duck and fish in the old pond; as they have been doing, uneventfully, for 30 years or more (Swimmers told they face fines if they bring a dog to Heath pond, December 7).

It is part of the age-old humanity of this place and humanity is what we are short of, is it not?

There is normally only the odd dog or two snoozing on the crude concrete compound floor for short intervals. Most swimmers love the presence of the odd dog or two. No swimmer to my knowledge has complained.

Their owners know that their dog is safe and comfortable. When dogs lie sleeping all is well! It has been a very English situation.

For years dogs have been officially prohibited but no one ever enforced the reserve power unless circumstances and a particular dog dictated exclusion – which seldom happened.

It was reasonable and proportionate. Most were happy.

Now even the most well behaved and heart-warming examples of man’s best friend are victim of this new zealousness; which seems like zealousness for its own sake.

There may be a major “for payment” dog-walker problem on the Heath, but it is not in the compound of the Highgate Men’s Pond where the dogs are few, friendly, often old and solitary like their masters.

The human joy and sleepy tail-wagging pleasure when a familiar dog meets a familiar swimmer has fitted and suited this place for many, many years.

Let common sense and reasonable conduct to man and dog return forthwith.

ROBERT SUTHERLAND SMITH
Chairman United Swimmers Association of Hampstead Heath
(Non dog owner)
Widecombe Way, N2

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