Heath funding: let's not make a crisis out of a drama
According to recent stories in the Ham&High Hampstead Heath is plunging into a deepening financial crisis, that in particular a mere £8,500 was raised of a target of £80,000 in regards the ponds. The Lido is in similar straits, having taken only £40,000
According to recent stories in the Ham&High Hampstead Heath is plunging into a deepening financial crisis, that in particular a mere £8,500 was raised of a target of £80,000 in regards the ponds. The Lido is in similar straits, having taken only £40,000 of a planned £125,000. This is not down to swimmers but to a disastrously wet and cold summer. Nobody seemed to want to swim.
I and other swimmers sincerely hope that this doesn't bring about another crisis in relations between swimmers and the Heath Management. It certainly doesn't have to. We have in Bob Hall a highly principled and committed Chairman of the Heath Management Committee. In earlier times, he reassured the pond swimmers that the ponds would close "over his dead body." We've been praying for his continuing good health ever since. On the City of London Management Committee as well, we have people who have shown a highly sophisticated understanding of the international acclaim enjoyed by the ponds and their importance as one of the top tourist destinations in London.
We are also grateful that Lido Swimmers over 65 are now invited to swim free between 7-9 a.m., an civic-minded and generous act that shows the Heath Management has turned over a new leaf where swimming is concerned. We look forward in time to this policy being extended to the ponds.
But there is also cause for concern. Recently, a Swim Forum meeting was cancelled with no explanation, causing consternation amongst those who regularly attend. The oversight of Bob Hall to mention the ponds' unique place on Hampstead Heath in a recent Ham & High column was also cause for worry. We are starting the approach to Christmas, and those of us who defend the ponds as the jewel in the Heath's crown remember that this was the season chosen for the last attempt to close the Mixed Pond.
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We hope this is not the case this Christmas. After several years of harmony and increasing good will, it would be a shame to start up again what proved to be not only a disastrously short-sighted policy but also the City of London's worst public relations disaster in living memory.
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Mixed Pond Action Group