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Ponds protesters with costumes on coathangers continue campaign against ‘elitist’ charges to swim on Hampstead Heath

PUBLISHED: 18:58 27 July 2020 | UPDATED: 16:22 07 August 2020

Protesters walk over Hampstead Heath towards the ponds on as part of the Save Our Ponds campaign on Sunday July 26. Picture: Polly Hancock.

Protesters walk over Hampstead Heath towards the ponds on as part of the Save Our Ponds campaign on Sunday July 26. Picture: Polly Hancock.

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Protesters returned to Hampstead Heath on Sunday as campaigners from the Save Our Ponds group sought to persuade passers-by to join the battle against compulsory fees to swim on the Heath.

Protesterson Parliament Hill as part of the Save Our Ponds campaign on Sunday July 26. Picture: Polly Hancock.Protesterson Parliament Hill as part of the Save Our Ponds campaign on Sunday July 26. Picture: Polly Hancock.

The Save Our Ponds group – formed by swimmers in March this year when the City of London Corporation (CoLC) decided to bring in charges citing increased running costs and safety concerns – spent an afternoon canvassing Heath-goers.

READ MORE: Petition launched to fight compulsory charges for Heath swimmers

Alix Lemkin, one of the co-convenors of the group, told this newspaper: “It went very well. We were able to speak to thousands of people, some of whom changed their minds about the issue.”

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Alix, who grew up in Hampstead, added: “Charging will change the ponds, and make them more of an elitist country club.”

Protesters walk over Hampstead Heath towards the ponds on as part of the Save Our Ponds campaign on Sunday July 26. Picture: Polly Hancock.Protesters walk over Hampstead Heath towards the ponds on as part of the Save Our Ponds campaign on Sunday July 26. Picture: Polly Hancock.

The CoLC’s Heath Management committee approved the charges, which it said safeguarded the bathing ponds’ future, after a consultation showed swimming groups preferred a model which would have kept charges optional and aimed to increase voluntary contributions.

Anne Fairweather, who now chairs the committee, said: “The new swimming charges were agreed by the elected Hampstead Heath Management Committee, following a detailed review and consultation with swimmers and the Heath Consultative Committee.

“Both the City Corporation and the swimmers agreed that action needed to be taken to ensure the welfare of the lifeguards, who were coming under increasing pressure after swimming numbers doubled in the last decade.”

She said the Heath was now thriving under the CoLC’s stewardship.


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