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Downton Abbey star Jim Carter backs Boris Bikes for Hampstead and Highgate

PUBLISHED: 12:56 20 January 2012 | UPDATED: 14:50 20 January 2012

Jim Carter has backed calls to bring Boris Bikes to Hampstead

Jim Carter has backed calls to bring Boris Bikes to Hampstead

ITV

Downton Abbey star Jim Carter has added his voice to growing calls for the next Mayor of London to bring Boris Bikes to Hampstead and Highgate.

West Hampstead resident Mr Carter, who plays lovable butler Carson in the television drama, said the popular rental bikes are a “wonderful invention” and should be extended north from King’s Cross into the rest of Camden.

The keen cyclist told the Ham&High: “They are very popular and anything that gets people out of cars and on their bikes is good.

“I had a feeling that the reason they weren’t in Hampstead was because the hill might put people off, but the bikes might encourage people to cycle down the hill and to work.”

He spoke as calls for iconic bikes to come to the “Northern Heights” of Hampstead and Highgate have reached a new high.

The bikes are docked in King’s Cross and there are plans to bring them to Camden Town.

But so far London Mayor Boris Johnson has not extended them further north.

Frank Harding, of the Heath and Hampstead Society, said: “As a personal view I think it is an excellent idea to extend the bikes. I have been complaining quietly that they haven’t been up in Hampstead for some time.

“There will be a lot of people who use them. I am not sure that many people will ride back up the hill but they will certainly ride down.

“In Paris people get up to the top of Montmartre on their bikes, so it we shouldn’t let the hills put us off.

“You cannot park a car in Hampstead, so maybe you can park a bike.”

Richard Webber, whose acclaimed Highgate tourist booklets Northern Heights have been named the best printed publication by the influential civic society group the London Forum, said: “I think it is a great idea. It would draw more people to the area.”ghts have been named the best printed publication by the influential civic society group the London Forum, said: “I think it is a great idea. It would draw more people to the area.”

Will the London Mayoral candidates bring Boris Bikes to Hampstead and Highgate?

* Jenny Jones, Green Party

“Yes we are in favour. We want to start by making the London scheme as big as the Paris scheme. At present it is a third of the size. We think one of the aims needs to be to spread the scheme so that it is used more by Londoners rather than tourists and commuters.

“Through our work in the London Assembly the Green Party are pushing for the extension of the cycle hire scheme around London, and this includes Highgate and Hampstead.”

* Brian Paddick, Liberal Democrat

“Lynne Featherstone (MP for Hornsey and Wood Green) and the Liberal Democrats first advocated a bike scheme for London way back in 2001, but Ken Livingstone rejected the idea during most of his years at City Hall.

“It is a shame that it has taken so long to achieve even a limited scheme for London.

“I believe the bike hire scheme needs to be better run, obtain far more revenue from its sponsor and needs to be expanded in many directions. As the finances of the scheme improve, its expansion to places such as Hampstead should be possible.”

* Ken Livingstone, Labour Party

“The bikes cost £12,000 each, and to extend them across London would cost £1billion. We have got to find a way of bringing the price down.

“We want to bring it up to Hampstead and London-wide, but we have got to get the price down.

“If you put the cost of paying for it onto the buses then people aren’t going to be happy

“It is a bit of a hill up there, but there are some fit people in Hampstead. The main issue holding it back is cost.”

* Boris Johnson, London Mayor, Conservative Party

A spokesman from Boris Johnson’s campaign team said: “The bikes have been a huge success and we want as many people as possible to enjoy them.

“At the moment the focus is on the current expansion plans in east and south London.

“We will consider approaches of interest in expanding the scheme in other parts of London where feasible.”

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