Campaigners fear Primrose Hill gates will become permanent

Call for meeting between those for and against park closures

Thursday, 7th October 2021 — By Harry Taylor

primrose hill  gates cnj27may21 Image 2021-05-27 at 08.16.22 (6)

The gates on Primrose Hill, but are they still needed?

CAMPAIGNERS have spoken about their concern that night-time closures on Primrose Hill have been extended to November, and fear they could be lengthened further.’

Entrances to the park have been blocked off on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights after 10pm since May in a bid to tackle anti-social behaviour and crime. The hill had become a destination for some with reports of loud music, partying and drug dealing after lockdown had closed down pubs and nightclubs.

Neighbours complained about being kept up until the early hours of the morning, and gates were introduced as a “circuit breaker” to try to stop ­people using the hill as a venue.

Initially the park closures were due to finish at the end of August but they were extended by a month until the end of September and now they will be in place until November.

Amy McKeown, from the Primrose Hill Keepers, said: “I was very shocked, and p***ed off to be honest when I found out. The reason that the hill is now empty is not just because of the gates, it is that people are travelling to the night-time economy venues because lockdown has eased.

“The problem has gone – so why is it still being closed without any consultation or communication? They are fighting the battles of last summer when what is in front of them now is very different.”

She added: “The worry is that this is the creep to it being closed at night permanently. And it may start at 10pm at first, but all it takes is a few changes of jobs or cuts and then it won’t be long until it’s closed at dusk like Regent’s Park over the road.”

Former councillor Jonny Bucknell, who convenes a meeting of the “Keepers” group said: “There were some awful scenes at Easter, but this is now totally unnecessary. You have to worry about what their long-term plan is, or if they even have one.”

A spokesperson for The Royal Parks said: “Having reviewed the situation again recently, we have made the decision to keep the gates closed until at least November 5, at which point we will consider whether weekend closures should be extended beyond that date.

“We understand that this is frustrating for many local residents and we will continue to monitor the situation. As always, we urge all visitors to be mindful of others and to respect the park and local residents.”

The hill has been closed at 9pm on Bonfire Night for the past few years, but the three-nights-a-week closure continues to stretch on into its sixth month.

Phil Cowan, whose flat overlooks Primrose Hill, said he believes that a public meeting should be held to try and find a long-term solution.

“People who are for and against it can both attend and put their sides across,” he said. “The extension until the beginning of November is something I’m in support of, and The Royal Parks can review it again at that point.

“It’s difficult to know what the impact will be of taking [the gates] off, because the moment that they come off there will be coverage of it, and people could return. It is quieter, but we don’t know whether it’s the gates or lockdown easing and the weather.”

On Tuesday a man was fined £200 at Westminster Magistrates’ Court for playing loud music on amplifiers in the park in April, May and June this year, breaching Royal Parks’ rules. Adam London, 41, was also told to pay £34 victim surcharge fees and £85 in costs after being found guilty of offences on April 24, May 29, May 31 and June 8.

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