Schools close early and barbecues in parks banned amid heatwave

Temperatures could reach record breaking levels on Monday or Tuesday

Monday, 18th July — By Frankie Lister-Fell, Harry Taylor, and Tom Foot


Visitors to Camden Town during the July heatwave

SCHOOLS in Camden are closing at lunchtime on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week amid an unprecedented heatwave, as rubbish collections have been changed and barbecues banned in parks run by Camden Council.

Secondary schools including UCL Academy, William Ellis, La Sante Union, Hampstead School, Parliament Hill, Haverstock and Acland Burghley will close at lunchtime on some of the days affected, or switch to remote lessons, as the school year draws to a close.

Traditionally 5pm is the hottest point of the day.

“The temperature in classrooms those afternoons in several parts of the school will not be conducive to good learning,” said a bulletin to parents from Acland Burghley.

Primary schools such as Brookfield in Highgate Newtown, Hampstead Parochial School and Fleet have taken similar steps. A spokesperson for Camden Council said that it had not given any direction and decisions were up to each school.

“We have shared advice from the Department for Education, Public Health and UK Health Security and NHS on how to keep children safe in the heat with all schools,” they said.

Barbecues have been banned in parks run by Camden Council on Monday and Tuesday given the fire risk. The Town Hall has also rescheduled housing repairs, as well as all-day appointments. Afternoon appointments have been brought forward to the morning. Rubbish collections will be going ahead earlier than usual.

The amateur weather station run by Ben Lee-Rodgers, based in Gospel Oak, had already recorded 36.1C by 2.25pm.

Visitors to shops in Camden High Street

Camden Town was quiet, but traders at Camden Market said that footfall had held up with tourists still visiting attractions.

Rezaur Rahman who runs Ice Cream for Dessert said: “[The heatwave] is having a bit effect, the people are frustrated and not many members of the public will be running around. Due to the warning, it made it worse. The government warning meant certain transport is affected. The government warning affects the local people to turn up, but as you can see the tourists are turning up normal. People are a bit frustrated but we’re here, they’re here and we love Camden, we keep it going.

“Business goes on, we have to support the country. We were shut too long because of [coronavirus], so we need every penny coming because bills are not reducing.”

Transport for London has introduced speed restrictions on London Overground services, with mainline trains out of King’s Cross and Euston also affected by limits brought in because of the temperature of rails.

Last week homeless charities raised concerns about the impact of scorching temperatures on rough sleepers, with a fear that some may die in the heat. The Whittington hospital in Archway declared a state of emergency with hospital bosses declaring a rare “black alert” amid warnings the hospital can no longer guarantee patient safety, as it anticipated an uptick in patients because of the excessive heat.

A scaffolder wraps a T-shirt around his head to avoid sunburn

Simon Lang, the President of the Hampstead Scientific Society, has been taking regular temperature readings in his garden in Hampstead.

Initially, his findings were suggesting the mercury could hit 41 degrees in Hampstead by 5pm, but by the afternoon things were looking “a bit more boring”, he accepted.
“Ok sensation seekers, it’s time to look away. It got to 34 degrees at 2pm, but it’s not looking like it’s going to get to more than 35 in Hampstead.
“I bet the readings of 40C are either in a concreted area or the heat will be greater further away from the southern coast than we are.”

Areas with concrete buildings have been found to store a lot of heat, he said.

But Mr Lang added: “Tomorrow is however another day.”
He said he would ratify his amateur readings at 6pm with the Met Office station in Gospel Oak.

Additional reporting by Cosmo Khan and Dara Coker

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