Ponds protesters with costumes on coathangers continue campaign against ‘elitist’ charges to swim on Hampstead Heath
- Credit: Archant
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.
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 swimmersAlix 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.”
Alix, who grew up in Hampstead, added: “Charging will change the ponds, and make them more of an elitist country club.”
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.