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Hampstead Heath budget faces £500,000 hole in 2021-2022 financial year

PUBLISHED: 15:25 22 October 2020 | UPDATED: 15:58 22 October 2020

Anne Fairweather chairs the Hampstead Heath Management Committee. Pictures: City of London Corporation / Nikki Newman

Anne Fairweather chairs the Hampstead Heath Management Committee. Pictures: City of London Corporation / Nikki Newman

Archant

Hampstead Heath bosses have been tasked with finding £500,000 as “financial pressures” mount.

At a meeting of the City of London Corporation’s (CoLC) Hampstead Heath Consultative Committee on October 19, members were told of the need to make savings or find additional income streams in the 2021-2022 financial year.

Colin Buttery, the CoLC’s director of open spaces, said the Heath team was expecting to be told to deal with a 12 per cent cut in its “local risk budget”, which amounts to around half a million pounds.

One plan to meet this cost could see charges to use sporting facilities and the Heath bathing ponds “benchmarked” over the winter.

He said staff were working hard to find efficiencies and increase income.

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He added: “We are hoping to fundraise both locally and through grants and we are confident that we can deliver efficiencies of about 12pc, but it will require a lot of hard work to achieve that.”

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In response, Highgate Society rep Michael Hammerson called for the CoLC to approach homeowners locally – whose property value benefits from the Heath nearby – as a fundraising strategy.

Richard Sumray, who represents sports groups on the consultative committee, called for a strategic review of how best to use the Hampstead Heath charity in response.

Anne Fairweather, who chairs the committee, said the financial news was “troubling”.

The CoLC’s Heath Superintendent, Bob Warnock, told the committee that income from potential plans to licence dog walking on the Heath and re-tender a contract to provide catering in the Heath extension could boost his coffers.

He also explained fees and charges for Heath activities would be reviewed and the CoLC was undertaking “benchmarking exercises” around the sporting facilities on the Heath. He said there were plans to do so for swimming facilities in the new year.


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