Ham&High letters: Mrs Newbie, cyclists, 168 bus, the Ponds, NHS, agents boards, Section 60 and Holi Festival

Heath swan Mrs Newbie with Wallace

Heath swan Mrs Newbie with Wallace - Credit: Ron Vester

Dogs need to be kept under control

Sian Whitehead, Sandstone Place, Highgate, writes:

I was very sad to hear of the attack on the swan Mrs Newbie two weeks ago.

I have been visiting her on the Heath since her arrival and have been aware of the many highs and lows that she has experienced as life for the Heath swans is usually eventful. Just as her life had got back on track with her new mate Wallace and their seven delightful cygnets, the needless dog attack occurred.

This is not a new experience for the swans on the heath. And they are victim to injuries from fishing lines and hooks.

Since Mrs Newbie’s injury I have been visiting most days to check on the remaining family with the hope that the threats to them would be in remission. This is not the case.

I have been witness to dogs entering the pond from all sides, many swimming beyond the allocated dog area and have heard another account of a large dog being in the pond very near to the swans.

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Dogs are still running around near the pond, off lead, often with the dog walker not in sight and unaware of exactly where the dog is or what they are doing.

Despite notices now up asking for dogs to be kept under control there are still many that can only be described as not under control.

It is the same on the two ponds on the Heath where there are swans with their young. Nothing has improved and the problem continues. There were many delighted by the story of love during lockdown between the two swans but that does not mean that they can now be free to live their life in peace; free from threat or danger. I am hoping that Mrs Newbie will recover and be reunited with her new family but until something changes I will continue to feel nervous that their lives are still under threat and there could be more attacks.

Shared Space

Antony Porter, Kilburn, full address supplied, writes:

Now that cyclists are being legally allowed to cycle on certain paths on Hampstead Heath, this innovation is raising new problems for pedestrians, especially as some cyclists ride whilst looking at their phones.

My suggestion is that new signs should be installed near these paths, namely Safe For Pedestrians And Caution - Shared Space.

A solution?

Chris Barker, Redston Road, Hornsey, writes:

Problems arising from the 168 bus gumming up South End Green predates Streatery. The stand there has long been felt to be an intrusion on what ought to be a tranquil space.

One solution would be to take the 168 away from South End Green altogether. It could, instead of turning down Pond Street, continue via the 268 route to Golders Green. This would give the green light to divert the 268 at Whitestone Pond to travel to Highgate, East Finchley and Muswell Hill, thus fulfilling the demand for many of us for a regular all-day route linking Muswell Hill with Hampstead. A neat solution to two problems!

The Ponds

John McPartlin, Highgate Road, Kentish Town, writes:

Ponds protests continue (July 30) and quite rightly so.

The ponds have always been a happy place where everyone could turn up casually and enjoy a day pleasure. This was formally established by parliament, an elected body, as a free facility, but this has been removed by the City of London Corporation, which is not such a body.

This has inevitably led to protest, and there is an online petition that readers are encouraged to sign here.

Robert Sutherland Smith, chairman, United Swimmers Association, writes:

To readers surprised and bemused at the continuing public outcry against enclosing the Hampstead Heath bathing ponds and charging for their use, I offer the following analysis.

Protestors see a long established freedom, conferred by a democratic authority - parliament - taken away by a less than democratic one - the City Corporation; a related lip service “consultation”, criticised for failing to observe local government best practice; a City Corporation not listening or giving proper time to citizens (either as users of the Heath’s ponds or as members of the appropriate advisory body, the Hampstead Heath Consultative Committee, specifically created for such occasions); many of London’s lowest paid workers ill affording the £4 charge now imposed for a swim - bearing in mind the too often, casual insecurity associated with low paid work; the astonishing fact of an integral part of Hampstead Heath being subtracted from the Heath’s historic, legal and social totality and identity, thus curtailing the bathing ponds long standing, singular contribution to the health and happiness of the most hard up Londoners at a time, when physical and mental well being is a growing social and human crisis.

They also note the irony, that whist charitable funds are replaced by large charges at the Ponds, those same charitable funds continue to support the grandest City wining and dining and fee paying schools, amongst other things.

Observers merely, quite reasonably, enquire which of these is the most appropriate objective for such charity? Why claret over pond water? Why gourmandising 150 years, people will not forget that the bathing ponds are as much part of the 1871 Hampstead Heath Act as every other topographical feature of Hampstead Heath and thereby intended to be freely available for the diversion of Londoners and a melting pot for all classes and kinds. What a brilliant idea! That is why it has for long been called , ‘Appy Ampstead!

NHS workers

Betty Cairns, Victoria Road, Woodford Green, writes:

Mr Connolly (Letters) is not alone in his disgust at the way NHS workers have been,and are still being,treated by the government.

I have had in my window for some weeks a small hand-lettered poster reading “No statues, no medals, just a decent wage”. A short time ago I was accosted in my garden by a middle-aged lady who assured me that not only did nurses have adequate wages but were being over-paid for what they do. Astonishment made me speechless.

Incidentally Michael Rosen wrote his touching poem to the NHS a long time ago. He above all people would not want it substituted for a “decent wage”.

The boards

Cllr Justin Hinchcliffe, Fortis Green writes:

Estate agents’ boards are a blight on our neighbourhoods. They are ugly and just add to the clutter of signage and street furniture. They are also a nuisance for tenants and property owners, as many of them are left lingering after a contract has been signed.

With so many online property websites these days, with great search and alert services, no one needs an agent board to find their new home. They are no more than free advertising for estate agents at the expense of the borough’s street-scene.

Haringey should follow Camden’s example without delay.

Section 60 orders

John Stratton, Thurlow Road, Hampstead, writes:

Tucked away at the end of an article by Sam Volpe last week is a worrying comment by Vivek Lehal criticising the use of Section 60 orders by police to control, break up and disperse so-called ‘block parties’.

I do not know the extent of these powers but surely he is not suggesting that when all night raves with deafeningly loud music are being played the police should do nothing to stop it. Apart from the awful nerve racking noise and nuisance caused to neighbours by 400 or more youngsters creating mayhem in residential neighbourhoods, those gathering are deliberately ignoring clear social distancing rules, putting themselves and others in danger of the virus - so much for “black lives matter” which they themselves are ignoring - but they don’t seem to care. In addition, these raves have been confirmed as ideal opportunities for drink and drugs to flow freely and have recently witnessed violet disorder and knife attacks, often fatal.

Just what does he expect the police to do? Stand by and watch whilst bottles and other objects are thrown at them? I should like to know.

Festival licence

E Chambers, chair, Winchester Road Residents Association (WRRA), writes:

The organisers of The Holi Festival held each year on Swiss Cottage Open Space, a site under normal circumstances far too small for the 500 people (Holi organisers own declared numbers) who attend this popular festival, put in a request last year to maintain this venue.

I objected because of the noise to which the very local residents were subjected to while the developers were working on 100 Avenue Road everyday, Saturday mornings included. I objected to having our respite time used for a noisy festival under these endlessly noisy circumstances, and requested that our very short respite time from noise be respected.

In the meantime, you may have noticed, there has been a pandemic. This brought about delays in the work carried out by Camden’s licensing team, and left me with Covid-19 from March 25, very ill for weeks, and unable to keep track of further changes.

Now a hearing has been arranged for the August 11 at 10am via Zoom, based on the old criterion put forward by both the organisers, and with my then objections, in spite of the seismic worldwide change of circumstances.

Camden licensing team claim that it is too late to change the nature of my objection, and updated it to the present situation in spite of the fact that the old objection is no longer relevant to our present situation, and the original request from the Holi festival organisers is now wholly inappropriate. This hearing procedure cannot be stopped. It is, it seems in a pipeline galloping along unstoppable.

Our new and utterly unique situation with regard to this virus will be ignored and everything must go blindly ahead to discuss situations that were very different before the pandemic hit the world. This is utterly bizarre. This hearing; the request by the Holi Festival organisers, and my own objections as they stood on the March 5, are no longer relevant, and decidedly inappropriate in the new situation we all find ourselves in because of this virus.

To continue dogmatically and blindly on to this hearing to discuss points which are now no longer relevant to all our situations would be risible and constitute a bizarre comedic performance from the licensing panel.

I suggest that it should responsibly be cancelled.

To bizarrely engage in a discussion for the granting of a festival of 500 people (Holi’s own numerical account) in the small open space at Swiss Cottage (which IMO has always been too small a venue for such a hugely popular event) is utterly reckless and will endanger the health of local resident who cannot be expect to move somewhere else for the required days. This ought by the application of commonsense to be the relevant point of discussion.

If you have any concerns with regard to a request for a 500-strong popular festival going ahead on the Swiss Cottage Open Space being discussed with a total disregard for the pandemic, please write and say so to: licensing.committee@camden.gov.uk. Quote the ref. no. App\PREMISES-NEW\ 101206. Please do this (not on the official forms) regardless of the fact that it is too late to formally object, just email your concerns and request that commonsense be deployed and this hearing be cancelled so that a fresh look at the conditions be properly and sensibly debated for our health and security.