Report of the Director of Open Spaces.
The Committee received a report of the Director of Open Spaces providing an update on the 2020 summer swimming season at Hampstead Heath which was impacted by Covid-19 and the commencement of the Winter Swimming Season. The following comments were made:
· 125k visitors have been swimming since the Swimming Ponds and Lido reopened all with social distancing.
· The BBC filmed a positive story at the Lido concerning a cold-water cure for dementia.
· A full review of the 2020 Summer Swimming Season would be presented to Members of the Management Committee in November 2020 followed by a report capturing the full year impact.
· In response to a query concerning the negative letter in Heath & Ham requesting the preservation of free open swimming, the Chair confirmed that the issues had been responded to and many were addressed within the review. It was highlighted that many lidos and open water venues had not reopened, and the City Corporation had worked hard to open its facilities and make them Covid secure.
· A Member emphasized the very responsive Twitter swim feed. Members saw social media as a great tool to interact in time with users.
· Officers responded to a query concerning unauthorised swimmers advising that this was a clear safety concern, and this was being deterred using extra signage and patrols.
· It was noted the Serpentine Swimming Club had received 2,000 application requests which highlighted the increased popularity of open water swimming. It was acknowledged there would be a real knock-on effect on other open swim venues if there was no Heath Ponds.
· A Member felt that emphasis needed to be made concerning how swimming at the Heath helped the health and wellbeing of its users and was also concerned by the lack of diversity of the respondents. Members agreed more work, particularly targeting BAME groups, was needed. Officers confirmed that there had been engagement with the Black Swimming Society and some impressive projects and sessions, e.g. with child refugees, had taken place. Improving diversity remained a priority and more work would follow.
RESOLVED – That Members provide feedback on the Summer Swimming Season.