The independent London newspaper

Why must we pay the fat cats of the City when we exercise on the Heath?

08 August, 2019

Athletics track at Parliament Hill Fields

• I WENT, a few weeks back, to jump rope (skip) and do body weight exercises on the field of the Hampstead athletics track.

It was in the middle of the day and there were few people there. Within minutes one of the employees/ground keepers approached me and said I had to leave or pay a fee for being there.

I enquired why, as I thought it was a public space. He said I needed to pay the City of London Corporation a daily fee. I told him I pay council tax, VAT and income tax and numerous other indirect taxes and that I thought this wrong.

By this time five small boys had sidled over to enquire about my skipping rope. He asked them the same question. They hadn’t paid.

One of the young boys asked if he could come every day and play/ exercise there, oblivious to what he’d been told such was his beautiful innocence. To which he was told he would have to pay a monthly fee of £45.

I left, as did the boys, not before being told by the young man that these were the rules and rules are rules and they need to be followed.

I recalled a Spectator article some time ago highlighting that the City of London Corporation was itself a tax haven. He said he knew this too though sadly rules are rules.

In an age of childhood obesity and inactivity, and similar problems in the adult realm, and the wide range of indirect and direct taxes, isn’t this idea and policy of charging people outside the occasional athletic club event occurring here, to work out or play, a grand farce?

Morally and ethically wrong, and counter-productive too?

Quadrant Grove, NW5


Share this story

Post a comment