Protect our free open spaces

Friday, 27th August

• UNEXPECTEDLY I’ve become a daily swimmer, recently in the Hampstead Heath ponds. This week I swam and chatted with Margaret Dickinson, the campaigner and film-maker.

City Swimmers, a film she made with others about the protection of the ponds against the City of London Corporation, who are constantly either trying to close the public ponds or charge for them.

This has made me think of Belsize Terrace, a public space which has been allowed to be taken over by the businesses which we have fully supported.

But don’t be misguided by this, Camden makes money with the tables and chairs. They have allowed themselves not to meet residents to ask how they see this space, but be guided by finance.

Disastrously profit belongs to our time, because of Covid, but at the same time we need to keep our eyes open to the nibbling away of public space where the things in life that are free and pleasurable, should not be taken away from us.

In the City Swimmers film, the then chair of the Ladies’ Pond, Jane Shallice, spoke about the need to keep the ponds for tomorrow’s children, something that must be done on Belsize Terrace for our children.

Please do not forget that we fought to keep the Co-op out of our village to save our shops and we fought to get a primary school, Abacus, both of which we won. If we lose our terrace just for profit we are not being guardians to the open spaces around us.


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