Occupy London St Paul’s protesters set up camp on Hampstead Heath
An anti-capitalist protest group which occupied the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral for nearly five months has settled on Hampstead Heath.
Around a dozen Occupy London protesters pitched seven tents on the old hockey pitch on the Heath late on Tuesday night.
Their faces concealed in V for Vendetta masks, worn by anti-capitalist movements across Europe, camp leaders said they descended on the beauty spot to protest against its growing commercialisation.
Tammy Samede, 34, who claims to have lost her home earlier this year after representing the St Paul’s Occupy camp at the High Court, attacked the City of London Corporation’s management of Hampstead Heath.
She said: “Not happy with attacking the homeless in society, they have now put their tentacles out into the wider community.
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“What are they doing on the Heath anyway? They are just gobbling up London’s open spaces. They should let the people have it back.”
She also branded controversial proposals to charge swimmers for using the Heath’s ponds – which have now been dropped – as “greedy”.
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A spokesman for the City said camping on the Heath would not be tolerated, but would not comment on whether plans were being made to evict the camp.
The protesters said they have taken legal advice from a QC and will challenge any attempts to evict them through the courts.
Timothy Sullivan, 46, said the group’s presence on the Heath could improve its safety by deterring gay cruisers from frequenting the beauty spot at night.
He said: “We could vaporise that problem just being here and let people enjoy their open space again.”
Occupy London spent nearly five months camped on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral protesting against “corporate greed” before they were evicted by bailiffs in February.
Michael Hammerson, who sits on the Highgate Society’s Heath committee, said: “All this is going to do is damage one of London’s most treasured wildlife sites and it’s not going to achieve anything.
“They are affronting millions of Londoners who value this place and think the City do a good job for Londoners.”
Nature enthusiast Ron Vester, 67, said: “If you get 10, you get 50, then you get 500, then it can becomes a bit of a disaster. You have got to think about sanitary issues and also where are they going to put their garbage?”
A spokesman for the City of London Corporation, which manages the Heath, said: “As the best piece of heavily-used urban green space near to the heart of any global metropolis, Hampstead Heath is no stranger to this issue and the bylaws are very clear - no camping. Full stop.”