Report of the Director of Open Spaces.
Unfortunately, swimming was still outside of the Step 3 of Covid recovery, but Swimming England were hopeful for an announcement this week. The industry generally had pushed for more information, as they would need time to mobilise. Hampstead Heath been working in anticipation of this and putting sensible measures in place. There had been learning from 2 recent trials; i.e. – a small test and then at operating capacity and officers were waiting on Government guidance before undertaking any further tests. Staff were engaging with swimmers who needed assistance and might have access difficulties. Members noted that the season ticket scheme had been suspended and would be reinstated as soon as possible.
The ticket office at Parliament Hill was now open for visitors or for telephone enquiries for those without internet access.
The Chair commended the amount of work done and was disappointed at the date being moved back. The Chair has written to the Secretary of State and copied in the Chair of the All-party Swimming Group. There had not been a response as yet, but hopeful other swimming organisations would follow suit. Members noted that, despite the pro-active work and preparations, the guidance was essential. It was noted that staff would need additional support in dealing with some behaviours, particularly in the early stages and the Heath must be seen to take enforcement action where necessary.
The Superintendent endorsed this and confirmed that the booking system had been designed to cover weather fluctuations. Banners and signage would be positioned in respect of pre booking and press releases and articles had explained this further. Lifeguards had been stationed since March and additional security guards were patrolling the bathing ponds at night. This had assisted the Constabulary, which had been considerably overstretched of late and the Superintended confirmed that enforcement would be used for breaches in byelaws and anti-social behaviour. The Chairman advised that she had repeatedly made a case for flexing the City’s resources to where they were most needed; i.e. – the City was very quiet but there had been considerable demands on our open spaces.