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Ham & High local news covers SOP petition launch

Local paper, the ‘Ham and High’ covers the launch of the campaign.

3 replies on “Ham & High local news covers SOP petition launch”

I think it is important to separate two issues with regards to the Ladies Pond (and the other ponds on the Heath):

a) the contact tracing issue, which requires someone to collate the contact details of anyone who is visiting the pond area during the Covid emergency because that way the virus can be traced. I am supposing that we all agree with this being necessary right now;

and b) Compulsory charges to use the pond area.

Right now it seems the contact tracing necessity is being used to justify/ram through the new compulsory charges, and yet these are two totally separate issues. It is perfectly possible to install a temporary online (and phone for those without internet) booking system with no compulsory charges. This would mean that there is no overcrowding at the pond during the Covid emergency and that contract tracing is established.

The fact that the compulsory charges are being introduced now is nothing to do with overcrowding but with the City of London wanting to monetize the ponds.

And let’s remember the ponds are not just ponds. Not everyone goes there for a swim. Many just visit it as one of the few women only spaces in London, or for contemplation, or for a picnic with girlfriends, or for reading, or for writing etc…

It suits the City of London’s purpose to portray the ponds as just swimming facilities because then it can compare them to local pools (and “benchmark [the charges] with similar facilities across London” as Anne Fairweather recently wrote to me on 2nd July). But there are no “similar facilities across London” because the ponds are unique.

I completely agree with earlier comments asking why swimmers are being made to pay to use the ponds when joggers, cyclists, dog walkers, walkers, runners etc… are not. Why are the swimmers asked to pay? Because the ponds are enclosed and the City of London thus thinks it can get away with it…whereas it is impossible to enclose the whole Heath and then charge an entry fee. At least I certainly hope it is impossible…

And by the way when the new buildings at the Ladies Pond were installed a few years ago, at great cost I presume, few of the swimmers had requested them. So money was found for the new buildings but seems not be found for hiring lifeguards and paying them a fair salary?

I think we need to open our eyes to what is really at stake right now: the privatizing of a natural and open space on the Heath.

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