Poor phone signal in Hampstead one of the reasons behind BID employing new 'village ambassador'
PUBLISHED: 11:24 01 August 2019 | UPDATED: 11:24 01 August 2019
The distressing sight of tourists stranded by Hampstead's dire phone signal is one reason for the £8,000 trial of a new village ambassador.
Alessia de Angelis will be a "knowledgeable and friendly on-street presence" in Hampstead, BID manager Marcos Gold told the Ham&High. She started the job last week.
She will help provide directions to visitors and recommend "new and exciting places to explore".
One BID critic has likened the role to something from "Disneyland Hampstead".
The BID's second paid staff member will keep an eye out for street faults, rubbish and hazards, and report them to Camden Council or Transport for London.
Hampstead BID said the initiative is costing £8,000 for the three month trial, with the cash coming from reserves.
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Mr Gold said: "This is an exciting partnership for [Hampstead]. Alessia will be there to direct guests to where they need to go, be a conduit to help visitors and tourists explore more of our beautiful village, and report on environmental concerns."
He told the Ham&High the decision was taken after concerns raised about footfall in parts of the village.
Mr Gold added he had personally seen some visitors struggling to load Google Maps on their mobile phones after getting off at Hampstead Tube station, and decided action needed to be taken.
The new position has been criticised by Hampstead local Sebastian Wocker, who has campaigned against the BID in his magazine the Hampstead Village Voice.
He told this newspaper: "It's Disneyland Hampstead. The last thing you need is someone walking around in an American-style uniform giving advice and directions. It is laughable.
"Businesses don't want to pay [the BID] and again the bottom line is that charities, schools, the community centre and NHS surgeries are paying for this."
He added: "Hampstead was here for 1,000 before and it will be here for 1,000 years afterwards."