The independent London newspaper

The city’s stance on the ponds is shameful

07 February, 2020

‘Not only are Hampstead Heath ponds an iconic place, they are an outdoor gym and community centre’

• I LEARNT, having just attended a meeting with the City of London Corporation, that there will soon be a compulsory charge to swim in the Hampstead Heath ladies’, men’s and mixed ponds of between £2 and £10 a day.

The city also wanted to give the members of the three pond associations under a week to consult their members.

This is the same City of London Corporation that the Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has called a tax haven for some of the world’s richest people, multi-national corporations, and the criminal underworld (read narco-traffickers, gun-runners and various prostitution and gambling rackets).

It’s a point further written about by Nicholas Shaxson (author of Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World) in The Spectator (February 24 2011). Nicholas’s article on the corporation was titled “The Tax Haven in the heart of Britain”.

So here we have a corporation (meaning a private entity) claiming they do charitable work (as in looking after the Heath and its ponds) off-loading another indirect tax on the public, while the same corporation, to use its words, “take responsibility for supporting the financial services industry and representing its interests”.

This is shameful, morally wrong, and unethical. Of course, it’s all legal. Tax havens are legal – like slavery once was.

Not only are the ponds an iconic place they are an outdoor gym and community centre.

If this comes to pass we must demand that the government or local authority service them and they remain free.

Of course, they don’t remain free because their servicing should come out of general taxation schemes and council tax.

I note the City of London use the word charity but not philanthropy, meaning a love of humanity in ancient Greek. No self-respecting tax haven could.

Philanthropy for the people they service often comes with a tax break, is a sign of status, boosts the moneyed person’s ego, and pacifies some guilt they may feel (if they’re not a socio or psychopath) that comes from a broken system.



Share this story

Post a comment