Will Primrose Hill park gates be election issue?

Candidates prepared to bring back barriers if anti-social behaviour returns

Monday, 28th March — By Harry Taylor

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

Gates at Primrose Hill last year


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A LEADING figure in a group set up to tackle antisocial behaviour on Primrose Hill said she is alarmed as candidates standing for election in May said they would back installing gates if problems reoccur, writes Harry Taylor.

Amy McKeown, part of the Primrose Hill Keepers group of volunteers that formed in 2021, said she was disappointed to see that some parties were mooting the return of controversial fences put on park entrances for several months last year.

A letter sent to neighbours near the park signed by the Conservative candidates, Alexandra Marsanu, Alex Andrews and Pierre Andrews said: “We want to end anti-social behaviour in Primrose Hill Park, including a plan to install gates on the park if the problem recurs.

“As a last resort these can be closed overnight to keep residents safe.”

Ms Marsanu told the New Journal:  “We would take a balanced approach, but if the levels of antisocial behaviour reach the levels of last year and 2020, then gates could be a solution.

“We could install them and temporarily close them if we see an increase – but we would also need more police patrols to go with it. We need to monitor the problem and see what works and what doesn’t.”

Labour candidate Anna Burrage said that her party could support gates as a long-term solution.

“We have to recognise that although we’re out of the pandemic, we can’t take for granted that things will go back to how they were before the pandemic, so we have to monitor things to see how they evolve, to a degree.”

She added: “I’m not saying gates wouldn’t be an answer, but I’m keen to carry on talking to people. I don’t jump in with both feet.”

The Green Party’s Matthew Wrigley said: “If the circumstances mean that gates are needed it would mean that all other measures and action had failed. I’d hope, and I don’t think it will be the same again this year.”

The Liberal Democrats did not respond, while independent candidate Phil Cowan has already said he was not opposed to the return of gates, Ms McKeown said: “I think it’s disappointing that every party is making wishy-washy statements and doesn’t seem to have a clear answer that does not involve the use of gates in some way.

“It’s frustrating that we’re having these conversations again. All the councillors made it crystal clear that the gating of the park last summer and the mayhem it caused was a temporary and exceptional solution to exceptional circumstances over lockdown.

“If that’s being brought into the campaign, it means everyone has gone back on their word.”

Gates were installed in spring last year, after complaints about disturbances from crowds gathering for parties on the hill during the lockdown at the time pubs, bars and nightclubs were still closed.

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