CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

The Heath, the City and its budget

26 March, 2020

‘It is about time protesters get real about costs of maintaining ponds’

• HURRAH and bravo to Richard Turpin for being driven to tell it like it is about the maintenance and cost of the swimming ponds on the Heath, (Safety is put at risk, March 19).

It is about time those ongoing protesters such as Robert Sutherland Smith, a real thorn in the flesh to the city corporation, get real about costs. It is pernicious nonsense to accuse the City of trying to make a profit by charging for ponds use.

He and others know full well – but won’t accept the reality – that due to health and safety regulations the City have no choice but to increase the number of lifeguards following tremendous swimmers’ usage last summer, and they have to cover the cost of doing so.

As explained by the committee chairman even with the proposed new charges, the City will still not cover the full costs of wages and maintenance and will still be subsidising the ponds to a certain extent.

As for Mr Sutherland Smith’s emotive nonsense about City burghers and banquets he is using the worst possible tasteless, underhand, populist methods to try to undermine a very reasonable case of nearly covering their costs. Certainly not making a profit.

And I find it incredible that for all the drama and hand-wringing when there is a tragic accident with someone drowning, selfish and ignorant determined swimmers are apparently still prepared to break down or climb over fences put their to keep them out for their own safety.

With unattended ponds, or other ponds not maintained for that purpose, there is a greater likelihood of underwater hazards.

Every organisation has to work to a budget and the City is no exception. The open spaces sector is only one of many they have responsibilities for.

They don’t just look after the Heath. They have responsibilities for such as Burnham Beeches, Epping Forest and many others, all of which have to be maintained, staffed and kept safe for the public.

It is about time that pond users gave thanks for such a competent organisation that was prepared to take on all their responsibilities after Margaret Thatcher abolished the Greater London Council and the holding body was not really up to the task.

Mr Turpin is to be commended for speaking out against the bullying and pressure groups who claim divine right for their free swim.

As he rightly points out, no other facility on the Heath is free, except for the Heath itself, and for this we should be truly grateful.

JOHN STRATTON
Thurlow Road, NW3

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