Who’s Who: Chair of the Swain’s Lane Residents’ Association for more than 20 years, John Slater, talks about why he loves Highgate
- Credit: Polly Hancock
John Slater, 74, has lived in Swain’s Lane for 38 years and has been co-chair of the Residents’ Association since it started more than 20 years ago. He retired as Director of Economics and Statistics at the Ministry of Agriculture (MAFF) some 14 years ago and is very involved with local issues in the area, with a particular interest in the conservation of Swain’s Lane.
What brought you to Highgate?
Chance! I had come down from Manchester, where I had been lecturing, to join the Civil Service prior to the UK’s entry into the European Union. My first little house was in College Lane. I liked the area and moved to Swain’s Lane when more space was needed.
What is your favourite thing about the area?
The proximity to Hampstead Heath, that wonderful open space well managed by the City of London Corporation.
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What is the worst thing about the area?
The arrival of Tesco in Swain’s Lane. The impact on the local shops and the large trucks seven days a week have had a very negative impact on the ambiance of the lane.
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If you had £100 to blow in Highgate, where would you spend it?
Take the family for a meal at Bistro Laz (a Mediterranean restaurant in Highgate West Hill). Inexpensive and very friendly service.
What is missing from the area?
A pedestrian crossing near the roundabout on Highgate Road would probably make crossing the lane safer, especially for children and the elderly.
What makes you smile on the way home?
It is good to know that the efforts of the residents association are appreciated. While many residents are elderly or very busy, they will rally round when needed. Added to which we have an increasingly cosmopolitan community who are anxious to know about local issues and how administrative systems operate.
If you were mayor for a day, what would you change?
Enforce the speeds limits effectively and get rid of all the speed cushions. They harm the local environment and are costly to the council to maintain. Travel is uncomfortable for passengers and damage is caused to vehicles.
How would you spend your perfect Sunday?
A walk on the Heath with friends or family.
Where in the World would you twin with Highgate?
Melbourne, a wonderful city with open space and trees and water.