Primrose Hill's night-time closure has split north London residents

People enjoy the warm weather and sunshine on Primrose Hill in north London. Picture date: Tuesday M

People enjoy the warm weather and sunshine on Primrose Hill - Credit: PA Images

We were definitely 20 years older than anyone else. But, as none of our own grown-up children were there for us to embarrass, David, Denise, my husband and I threw caution to the wind and danced our way into the early hours last midsummer night, watching the sun go down, on Primrose Hill.

We marvelled at the energy of the thousands of revellers, and, of course, ate an enormous, cheese laden picnic with a bottle of David’s best wine.

This year things look different with an eruption of emotions surrounding the decision to close Primrose Hill park at 10pm each night due to “unsociable” behaviour.

This issue has split north London social media groups this week – some evoking their democratic right to enjoy the park at any hour, night or day, with others demanding their right to live free from people vomiting (or worse) literally on their front steps and gangs prowling the streets.

Laura Marks says that Camden's streets can be made safer with the same spirit shown during the pande

Laura Marks enjoyed a Midsummer's picnic at Primrose Hill - Credit: Archant

With this week’s local elections, democracy is front of mind. The polling stations having done an incredible job harnessing local volunteers and creating Covid-safe conditions. Voting is a privilege and, to that extent a joy, but it can and does pit one group against another – right or left, for or against, you versus us. That polarisation can be pernicious, driving wedges between us when, in reality, we share common beliefs, standards and values as a community.

The park opening times has done the same with angry voices speaking from each polar end. In reality, the issues are more complex. Even as we enjoyed our midsummer picnic, people were literally queuing to relieve themselves in the bushes. Abandoned paper plates, half eaten pots of humus, and broken bottles were not only a magnet for rats and foxes but a health hazard for children and dogs alike, and the noise was intrusive.

"The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members," said Coretta Scott King, the lesser-known wife of Martin Luther King. We are a community – we need to find a way through so that whether it’s a picnic or just some peace, our local parks can serve us all.

Laura Marks is founder of Mitzvah Day, chair of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and an interfaith consultant -