The Superintendent to be heard.
The Superintendent provided an update on recent activity and issues affecting the Heath.
By the 2017/18 Financial Year, the City of London Corporation’s Open Spaces Department would be required to find £2.2m of savings. A more detailed paper on proposed savings would be submitted to the Consultative Committee at its July 2015 meeting. To inform the decision to be made on savings, seven themes were being developed to help prioritise the work undertaken by the Open Spaces Department. These included a Learning Programme that would review the education ‘offer’ of the Open Spaces, looking at outcomes around education and play activities. This programme would include an application to The City Bridge Trust. The review would affect several activities and services across North London Open Spaces, such as the One O’Clock Club, Golders Hill Park Zoo and Queen’s Park Children’s Farm, and the Heath Education Centre.
A Sports Programme would be a similar piece of work that sought to evaluate the ‘offer’ provided across North London Open Spaces, inherent in which was an exercise to gather baseline information on current services and performance, including customer service surveys.
A Various Powers Bill would be submitted to Parliament seeking changes to legislation governing Open Spaces to give clarity and flexibility to management of Open Spaces, enabling more efficient and effective services. The Superintendent noted the proposed Bill was a substantive item on the agenda.
Greater effort would be made across City Corporation Open Spaces to promote services, to raise awareness of the range of services provided, their cost, and any opportunities for income generation.
Savings would be sought through greater energy efficiency in departmental business and management plans, in order to reduce utility consumption, promote renewable energy and, through a linked theme reduce fuel consumption.
Linked to the energy efficiency savings theme was a fleet and equipment review to establish how the existing fleet resources of the Open Spaces Department could be better utilised.
Lastly, work was being done on wayleaves, to introduce a more regular and structured approach to the review and management of wayleave agreements, to ensure the cost of managing wayleaves was reflected fairly in the charges levied for their introduction. The proposed approach would first focus on motorgates, then handgates, and would conclude with a review of service agreements.
In response to a question from Michael Hammerson, the Superintendent confirmed that the required savings were £2.2m by 2017/18, which equated to 14% of the Open Spaces Department’s budget.
Property – Lido Café and Boundary Wall
The Additional Works Programme works to the Lido Café were scheduled for completion during the first week of May. The bricks for the parapet wall were in poor condition and would therefore be replaced using salvaged bricks taken from the collapsed boundary wall. This in turn would affect the completion date for the boundary wall. Appropriate replacement bricks for the boundary wall would be discussed with Heritage Officers from the London Borough of Camden.
Property – Lido Pool
Divers would be employed to examine the lining of the Lido pool.
Property – Golders Hill Park Toilets
The Golders Hill Park toilets had been operating effectively since July 2014 thanks to new macerators and a revised maintenance programme.
Property – Parliament Hill Café Planters
Work on replacement planters had commenced in early March 2015 and was due to be completed by 13 March.
Property – Upcoming Works
The Golders Hill Park Stumpery recirculating pump would be installed during drier weather. Reed clearing and cleaning of granite paving was due to commence on Whitestone Pond. Ha-Ha railings and damaged railings near Whitestone Pond were due for repair in late March 2015. Remedial works to new tarmacking on the Parliament Hill tennis courts that had been laid in September 2014 would be undertaken during March, with a final surface coat applied in April. The Parliament Hill vehicle entrance barrier was due for replacement. The Parliament Hill Athletics Track floodlight control gear and lumieres would be replaced. The drinking fountains at Parliament Hill Playground and Staff Yard would be re-commissioned once the risk of freezing had passed, around late March or early April 2015.
Planning – Athlone House
The appeal inquiry had concluded on 27 February 2015, with a decision expected on 12 June. The City Corporation instructed Counsel and engaged an expert witness to give evidence at the inquiry.
Planning – The Water House
The report of a City Corporation consultant on the applicant’s Construction Management Plan (CMP) had been submitted to the London Borough of Camden on 13 February 2015, and the Camden Planning Officer had submitted the application for review by Camden Highways colleagues. The Superintendent added that he now understood the applicant had submitted a revised CMP. In response to a query from Michael Hammerson the Chairman agreed that the report on the CMP could be circulated to wider members of the Consultative Committee.
Planning – Parliament Hill School
The City Corporation had submitted a representation to the London Borough of Camden. The Superintendent reported that the application would be considered by Camden’s Planning Committee on 12 March.
Five weddings had been held at the Hill Garden and Pergola during 2014/15, with good feedback received. Deposits had been paid for a further sixteen weddings during 2015/16. A new handrail had been installed on the approach to the Hill Garden in February 2015. The Superintendent would be reporting on the impact of weddings on the site to the September 2015 meeting of the Hampstead Heath Management Committee.
In response to a suggestion from John Weston, the Superintendent agreed to investigate whether couples getting married at the Pergola wished to sponsor replacement beams which could either be engraved or given a commemorative plaque.
Recruitment to one of two current vacancies in the Hampstead Heath Constabulary had been completed. The Heath Assistant Operational Services Manager had been successful in her application to become West Ham Park Manager. The Ponds Project and Management Support Officer had been successful in her application to become the Open Spaces Departmental Business Manager.
Team – Conservation and Ecology
Heath Ecologists had installed 9 bat boxes with a further 8 due for installation. The Conservation Team had been gorse coppicing on both Sandy Heath and West Heath, as well as having laid a hedge parallel to the path leading to the Lido. The Team had also been assisting Ponds Project Contractors in tree felling work by clearing chippings and moving timber from around the Stock Pond.
Team – Golders Hill Park
The Team had completed the redesign and landscaping of the Eagle Owl enclosure.
Team – Parliament Hill
The metal vehicle barrier posts at the Highgate Road entrance had been replaced with wooden posts to soften the appearance of the area.
Team – Tree Team
The Tree Team had installed Christmas trees and lights at Parliament Hill, Golders Hill Park, and Queen’s Park. The Team had also carried out partnership working with colleagues at Burnham Beeches to manage veteran beech pollards.
The Lido hosted the Parliament Hill Icy Swim Hootenanny (PHISH) event on 17 January 2015, which with 200 participants had been a success. At the Men’s Pond, the annual Christmas Day Swim had also been a success, with 150 persons taking part in four races, and with 200 spectators attending. A divers’ inspection of the Men’s Pond and Mixed Pond jetty had taken place on 6 March 2015, with a report on the structure’s integrity due shortly.
Hampstead Heath Constabulary
The Superintendent noted two reports from the Constabulary featured on the agenda. He added that the Constabulary had responded to 145 incidents up until the end of February 2015, 22 of which related to cycling and 12 to dog control. First aid had been provided on 4 occasions. Sadly there had been an incident of suicide on the Heath, near the Mixed Pond, in early January, with Constabulary officers attending the scene to work with Metropolitan Police colleagues to cordon off the area. The Constabulary had taken delivery of new Airwave radios in February 2015 and had started using them as of early March 2015.
On the conclusion of the Superintendent’s update, members discussed matters arising. In response to a question from Colin Gregory concerning the future of Golders Hill Park Zoo, the Superintendent replied that a Senior Zoo Keeper and Engagement Officer had been employed to improve the operation of the zoo. Work to date included improved presentation and interpretative boards. Further work was being undertaken to develop the zoo ‘offer’ further to make it sustainable.
In response to a question from Susan Rose regarding the removal of a tree from Lime Avenue, the Conservation and Trees Manager replied that the tree in question had been subject to structural issues that required it to be removed. He added that the resulting gap would be replanted. In response to a comment by Michael Hammerson the Conservation and Trees Manager agreed to consider whether the replacement would be a lime or ok tree.
The Consultative Committee agreed to order business so that the reports of the City Surveyor were considered at that stage of the agenda.