Report of the Superintendent of Hampstead Heath.
The Leisure and Events Manager introduced a report of the Superintendent of Hampstead Heath on the fatality that occurred in the Kenwood Ladies Pond on 4 August 2013.
He noted that it was a difficult report to present to the committee and it covered what had been a difficult period for all who had been involved in the incident. He commented that the City of London Corporation could be proud of its response to the incident given that it had been handled professionally, responsibly and caringly.
He went on to note that the lifeguards were extremely busy during summer 2013 and were carrying out regular rescues from the Ponds. He commented that the peer-review report on the City of London Corporation’s lifeguarding practices demonstrated that they were ensuring the Corporation was meeting its duty of care to swimmers. He emphasised that the fatality had been the first one on the Heath whilst lifeguards had been on duty, for 37 years. He concluded by noting that the health and safety report concluded that the City of London was doing all it could to limit the hazards faced by swimmers in a natural water setting, but that ultimately the responsibility in responding to those hazards was the individual swimmer’s.
Richard Sumray welcomed the action plan included with the report that outlined improvements that would be made to the swimming experience at the Ponds. He supported in particular the induction of new swimmers and the installation of a second platform, which were recommendations of the Sports Advisory Forum. Moreover he welcomed the fact a report on proposed changes would be submitted to the Forum in due course.
Jeremy Wright commented that the lifeguards did an excellent job but queried the usefulness of updated signage. In response the Superintendent replied that chalk boards had been introduced to reinforce the safety messages and share relevant information with bathers.
In response to a query from Michael Hammerson the Superintendent replied that the intention was to ensure there was no conflict between swimmers and anglers. For example carp fishing involved casting lines towards the centre of the Ponds, which posed a clear conflict with swimmers. To compensate for the removal of fishing from the mixed pond and restrictions at the Men’s pond improvements to the other fishing ponds were being explored.