Corporation of London responds to protest over closure of Hampstead Heath play facility

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The DPNF have received a reply (see letter below) from Yvette Hughes, Business Manager – Hampstead Heath, in response to the concerns expressed by members of the community to the possible closure of the very popular children facilities on Hampstead Heath.

Since it’s launch in October over 2,170 have signed a petition against the proposed cuts to these facilities that have provided local children with access to play and learning for many years.

While this response confirms that the paddling pool will continue to operate as before, it does not give a clear picture of what the plans are for the adventure playground or the 1 O’ clock club from March 2016.

Given the incredible response in the community to the threat of closure it would seem pertinent that the Corporation of London consultation procedure is extended to include the members of the local community who depend on the facility for their families.

Here is the letter from Yvette Hughes in full:

Thank you for your email regarding the facilities at Hampstead Heath, which has been passed to me by the Director of Open Spaces, Sue Ireland.

It is clear that are concerned about the  reports which you may have seen or heard regarding budget cuts and redundancies.  Unfortunately, the articles are inaccurate and misleading.  The City of London is not closing services on the Heath and will continue to provide a first class experience for all who visit.  Like any accountable public services provider we have a responsibility to make sure we are providing an efficient and effective service, in order to achieve the best results for our local communities.

London is growing quickly and the more people use our sites, the more we need to make sure they are fit for the future. Long term sustainability is key to achieving our overall purpose of preserving and protecting world class green spaces for the benefit of our local communities and the environment.

As part of this work we are running a staff consultation asking for their views, ideas and suggestions on how we can deliver some services more effectively, potentially supplemented by income generation in some areas, where that is appropriate. We will then consider how any services should change in light of their feedback.

 Adventure Playground & One O‘ Clock Club Commitment

The City Corporation will continue to operate both facilities with potential changes to the opening times, winter opening arrangements and introducing charges.  The after school and Saturday sessions at the Adventure Playground will continue along with a school holiday programme.  The proposals include creating a new post of Play and Learning Project Officer to run the children’s play sessions with a stronger focus on wildlife and the Heath’s natural environment.  The City Corporation will continue to licence and support the Queen’s Crescent Community Association who provide the morning Ten O’ Clock Club at the Peggy Jay Centre.

Parliament Hill Playground Commitment

The playground will remain open as usual, although parents and guardians will be required to supervise the young children in their care.  The City Corporation will continue to maintain the facility including litter collection, toilet cleaning, playground safety inspections and through regular maintenance.  The supervision and maintenance of the paddling pool will continue as normal.

Education commitment

The current level of funding for education will increase, supplemented with further funding opportunities from grant applications.  The City Corporation is consulting staff on realigning the play and education services with our new learning framework to ensure the best possible outcomes for the students and teachers.  The new learning programme, which will involve the Adventure Playground and One O’ Clock Club will focus on the Heath’s natural environment and will aim to encourage young people from local communities to become actively engaged with demonstrable outcomes which we intend to share across our Open Spaces Department and with other green spaces providers in London.

The proposals include four education posts which will be based on the Heath and supported by a wider team of education specialists from our Open Spaces Department.  The Heath learning team will also develop a new project aiming to get more disadvantaged under 5s and their families playing in wild areas on the Heath.  As well as providing opportunities for NEET young people in the Heath’s communities to learn about the green space sector through a new open spaces wide partnership project.

To summarise, a review of services on the Heath has identified that some aspects could be run more efficiently and where appropriate supplemented by income generation, which would be re-invested back into Heath services.  The City Corporation is now running a staff consultation asking for views, ideas and suggestions on a range of proposals aligned to the learning programme.

I hope this helps explain the process we are following and our commitment to play and learning.

Best wishes

Yvette

Yvette  Hughes

Business Manager – Hampstead Heath

Telephone: 020 7332 3977

Fax: 020 8348 1677

Email: yvette.hughes@cityoflondon.gov.uk

www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/hampsteadheath

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