Campaigners have expressed their disappointment after losing in a bid to bar trans women from Hampstead Heath's womens swimming pond.

Janice William had called for the Kenwood Ladies Pond Association (KLPA) to change its constitution at its AGM on March 3 so only "biological women" would be allowed to swim there.

Janice, a former KLPA committee member, hoped this would be the first step in changing the policy of the City of London Corporation (CoLC), which ultimately manages the Heath and its ponds.

Any person who is transitioning or has transitioned can swim in the the ladies pond since the corporation adopted a new gender identity policy in 2010.

Janice said: "Going to the KLPA was only a way of getting to the CoLC with something small. The people with the real power are the City of London anyway.

"We'll be looking to shed light on single sex exemptions. We'll have to do a legal challenge. The CoLC has loads of money and we haven't, but I think people on our side of the argument would stick their hands in their pockets for it."

KLPA members voted down Janice's proposal by around three quarters, but the meeting was abandoned after it degenerated into shouting

The association had told members that its legal advice was that changing the constitution would be unlawful under the Equality Act 2010.

Janice believes the legal advice was shared "deliberately late" on the Friday before the Sunday meeting so members had little time to discuss it.

And she claims the advice did not cover single sex exemptions that apply to changing rooms in equality law.

Ham & High: Kenwood Ladies Pond entrance says 'women only' but transgender women and men identifying as women can also enter angering some swimmersKenwood Ladies Pond entrance says 'women only' but transgender women and men identifying as women can also enter angering some swimmers (Image: Nathalie Raffray)

KLPA co-chairs Pauline Latchem and Ruth Hallgarten, said in a statement that the legal advice was circulated as soon as it was available.

Both sides cited the example of the KLPA's position on charging for disabled people, in which the KLPA disagrees with the corporation's charges.

Janice feels the KLPA's backing of a member's legal challenge to the charges proves there is scope for the two groups to have different policies, while the KLPA says it and the corporation are "broadly aligned" over trans policy.

The Haringey and Islington Women's Group was also disappointed with the outcome. It said in a statement: "As single-sex spaces are protected by the Equality Act, and this has been reiterated in guidance by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, we are at a loss as to why the committee opposed this motion — and continues to dismiss the views of women who would like males, no matter how they identify, to be excluded from the the ladies pond.

"Some women do not wish to change and swim in the presence of men. This might be due to their experience of male violence, religious beliefs, cultural preferences, or simply because they would like to relax in a women-only space.

"This is not unreasonable and it is not 'anti-trans'. It is pro-women."

A spokesperson for the CoLC said: “We do not tolerate any form of discrimination.
“Our gender identity policy ensures our public services do not discriminate against trans people – in line with legislation."

They said they "want to ensure they all feel comfortable accessing and enjoying the bathing ponds and other facilities".
“All communities should be fully respected," they added.