Report of the Remembrancer.
The Committee considered a report of the Remembrancer that provided a full working draft of the City of London Corporation (Open Spaces) Bill, which was due to be deposited to Parliament on 27 November 2015 subject to the approval of the Court of Common Council for the promotion of the Bill. This would be considered by the Court of Common Council on 15 October 2015.
Members discussed each clause of the draft Bill and the following matters were considered:-
· In response to a member’s (London Council for Sport & Recreation) question, the Remembrancer advised that the purpose of the Bill was to allow for new things which could not currently be done, or over which there was currently some ambiguity.
· The Ministry of Housing and Local Government Provisional Order Confirmation (Greater London Parks and Open Spaces) Act 1967 already allowed for a wide range of events at the Heath but other Open Spaces managed by the City of London Corporation did not have the same freedoms.
4. General Provision
· All provisions of the Hampstead Heath Act 1871 had been considered and the relevant sections were referred to in clause 4(1)(a) of the draft Bill.
· Additional wording could be incorporatedto make clear that the Bill should be read alongside the existing legislation, which members (Hampstead Garden Suburb Residents’ Association, Heath & Hampstead Society) expressed would be helpful.
· Members (London Council for Sport & Recreation, Hampstead Garden Suburb Residents’ Association, Heath & Hampstead Society) suggested additional sections of the 1871 Act, such as section 15, should also be referred to and that clause 4(3) included reference to ‘duties’ as well as ‘powers’.
· In response to members’ concerns, the Remembrancer advised that he hoped to address the points about ‘duties’ in clause 4(1) and consideration would be given to how the Bill could iron out ambiguities in the existing legislation.
5. Land Management
Members noted that this clause was currently more relevant to other Open Spaces managed by the City Corporation as the grazing of cattle or other animals did not take place on the Heath yet and no rights of common existed.
6. Letting of Premises
· The Remembrancer advised that the intention of the Bill was to address the letting of buildings, not grasslands or open-air facilities such as sports areas, so the title of this clause was likely to be amended to specify this.
· The Director of Open Spaces had consulted an open spaces catering contract expert, who had recommended that the Bill allowed for leases of up to 20 years, particularly where improvement was required through capital investment, but that each building be considered on a case by case basis to allow for a standard of approximately 10 years in a majority of cases.
· Two members (Hampstead Garden Suburb Residents’ Association, Heath & Hampstead Society) had already raised concerns about increasing the length of leases to be granted beyond the existing three year limit but a majority of Committee members supported a maximum of 21 years.
· In response to a member’s (London Council for Sport & Recreation) question, the Director of Open Spaces advised that parts of the Lido could be defined as ‘buildings’ so leases could be granted under the proposed provisions to allow for capital investment.
· A member (Hampstead Garden Suburb Residents’ Association) suggested that the types of premises or buildings affected could be made clearer; for instance, the Athletics Track building was not relevant to the recommendations regarding catering buildings so different types could be restricted to 10 as opposed to 21 years.
· In response to a member’s (Hampstead Garden Suburb Residents’ Association) concern regarding the continued provision of buildings for public benefit (such as toilet facilities), the Remembrancer advised that a high level of detail was not expected from the Bill but the wording would be considered further, perhaps to include reference to no negative effects for Heath users.
· In response to members’ (Highgate Society, Heath & Hampstead Society) concerns regarding clause 6(5), the Remembrancer advised that further consideration would be given to the consultation process to be used before granting a lease or licence.
7. Facilities for Events
· Most events that currently took place on the Heath, such as the Affordable Arts Fair and Weddings and Civil Ceremonies, were not covered in the 1967 Act but they were managed within the provisions of said Act; for instance, Weddings and Civil Ceremonies were limited to two occassions per month in accordance with maintaining the public use of the open space.
· Existing legislation did not include any requirement for consultation but this was to be provided for in the Bill.
· Members noted that the types of events in clause 7(1)(a) could be specified further to include the number of events, as well as the times and places at which they were allowed.
· A member (Hampstead Garden Suburb Residents’ Association) considered that more detail in regards to events should be included in the Bill; he suggested that a distinction between ‘natural’ and ‘non-natural’ areas of the Heath could be made.
· Members noted that detail could be dealt with best in policy rather than the wording of the Bill and that the Management Plan already contained the relevant material, which could be a way of providing greater clarity.
· Members (Highgate Society, South End Green Association) suggested that provisions should be in accordance with the Management Plan, if one existed for the open space in question.
10. Control of Commercial Activity
In response to a member’s (Highgate Society) question, the Remembrancer confirmed that ‘commercial activity’ in this clause referred to activities taking place on public open space land as opposed to the commercial letting of buildings. The Superintendent added examples of this definition of commercial activity including dog walking, personal fitness training and filming, amongst other activities.
11. Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) & Community Protection Notices
Members were advised that authorised officers would have to power to issue FPNs to anyone believed to have committed certain offences on the Heath, such as littering and byelaw offences. The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 also allowed for nuisances to be dealt with by the local authority in which the offence was being committed.
13. Power to Require Name and Address
Members were advised that the Constabulary already possessed powers to request the name and address of anyone believed to have committed an offence and to carry out an arrest if it was withheld.
14. Removal and Disposal of Trespassory Articles
The Superintendent advised that this clause was mostly relevant to the removal of discarded camping equipment from the Heath.
In response to general questions from members (Highgate Society, Heath & Hampstead Society):-
· the Remembrancer advised that revenue from commercial lettings would continue to be retained for maintenance of the Heath in line with the charitable objectives; and
· the Director of Open Spaces advised that complaints procedures against leaseholders would be included in each licence or lease. She added that matters relating to disputes would continue be reported to the Committee when necessary.
To conclude, Members were advised that this Committee and the Hampstead Heath, Highgate Wood & Queen’s Park Committee would continue to notified of further revisions to the Bill during the remainder of the drafting process in October and November.
RESOLVED – That the views of the Hampstead Heath Consultative Committee regarding the City of London Corporation (Open Spaces) Bill be noted.