We are pleased to be able to let you know that the Heath swimming facilities will begin a phased re-opening this weekend (11th July 2020) initially with just a couple of early morning one hour sessions at each location (increasing number of daily sessions over the coming days/weeks). Pond swims are restricted to adults only until further notice.
Mixed Pond swims are limited to 20 swimmers per session and there are only 165 swimming slots available per session in total across the three ponds and the Lido. This means demand will be very high (so get your goggles on quick)!.
ALL SWIMS MUST BE BOOKED ON LINE IN ADVANCE - NO SLOTS AVAILABLE ON THE DOOR
Please read all the detailed instructions on the ticket website and if you have issues or comments then please email the City of London directly (email@example.com).
You can view all the available swim slots from the link below and then select the location and session you want to book for.
BOOK A SWIM NOW
For now, bookings for each day will be open to the public for sale at noon of the day before the session. The release time is likely to change so keep an eye out for updates and more slots being available on the booking website.
Full details from the CoL can be found here too.
Note: You may see a"donations" option during the booking process. Due to the hugely increased prices being forced on swimmers the MPA do not believe donations should be requested on top of the entry fee. The new session costs are adequate to cover the costs of maintaining the ponds.
Good luck with getting a ticket, we are hopeful of more slots opening up soon.
We know you are probably itching to get back into the water as soon as possible and, despite much pre-planning work already undertaken for a possible opening in early July, the recent announcement by the Government means that unfortunately swimming facilities have to remain closed and DO NOT have permission to re-open in early July.
If you would like to know what you can do to "encourage" the Government to re-open swimming facilities then look at the list of actions proposed by Swim England. The more that take part in these actions the better!
ny possible re-opening, when it does finally happen, will be with limited numbers of swimmers. Swimmers will have to pay and pre-book online for a fixed 1 hour slot (MPA membership does not allow free swimming and Season Tickets are currently suspended).
We appreciate that some people may have limited online access and may be unable to make digital payments and that the approved new cost per swim (£4.00 with £2.40 for concessions) is a large amount for many swimmers and we are raising all these issues with the Heath management and City Of London.
As an association, we continue to push back on the new charging regime overall and we are in regular discussion with the other local swim groups and MPs are also getting involved. We are also doing our utmost to ensure the preservation the natural environment of the Mixed Pond during this time of change.
We hope to have more news in the coming weeks about the ongoing opening and will email members and our mailing list once we know.
If you want to be kept up-to-date and show your support for the Mixed Pond then please join the MPA (its only £3 per year).
With the recent adjustments to the lockdown status we wanted to update subscribers on the current situation in relation to swimming as it applies to the Heath.
We would all love to be back enjoying the water right now and we are regularly in contact with the Hampstead Heath management team trying to work out what plans can be put in place to start to re-open the swimming facilities in some way.
Mixed Pond Association Committee
26 February 2020
This meeting for members of the pond users’ associations, was called at short notice when swimmers’ representatives feared that the City was not listening to their views over the future management of the ponds. Fears were confirmed when on February 24th the City unveiled their intentions at the Sports Forum.
We now know that despite a supposed consultation with swimmers reps which began in January 2020 and involved many hours of meetings the City is proposing, against the advice of all the associations, to double day charges (to £4 per adult) and to enforce them strictly, probably by staffing the entrances to the pond enclosures.
The full set of proposals and options considered can be found summarised in this article.
The background to this is quite complicated and for those who do not know it there is a short summary at the end of this report.
Attendance at the meeting was counted as 103, (36 from the HMPA, 55 from the KLPA, 14 from the MPA 6 from the Lifebuoys and one from the USA)
Proceedings were moderated by Marc Hutchinson, Chair of the Heath and Hampstead Society. Speakers were Chris Piesold from the HMPA and Nicola Mayhew from the KLPA. Margaret Dickinson from the MPA responded to questions relating to the Mixed Pond.
Chris provided some background about the financial situation. This year the City expects the new pond staffing bill will be £300,000 plus above previous costs. There has been increased expenditure for summer problems over the last two years but the picture of ever rising costs the City presents is not quite accurate. Over the last ten years inflation adjusted net expenditure has been cut 36% for the Heath as a whole and 9% for the ponds. The % of expenditure recovered from income has doubled in the last 10 years indicative of the City's apparent intention to commodify the Heath to the maximum extent. City’s cash, the fund from which the expenses are paid, had net assets of £2.7 billion in 2019.
Nicola reported on the background, the present consultation and the position taken by the KLPAS and other associations.
There was a lively discussion during which many speakers stressed the unique character of the ponds and criticised the notion that they can be compared to open air lido or water sports venues. Most contributions supported the stand taken by the associations in opposing increased charges and heavy handed enforcement; about three speakers cast doubt on this position.
THE FOLLOWING MOTIONS WERE PUT TO THE VOTE AND AGREED BY A LARGE MAJORITY OF THOSE ATTENDING
Brief background to charging at the Hampstead Heath Ponds.
Until 2005 swimming was free and the running costs of the ponds were provided by the Heath management which before 1987 was the GLC. Following the abolition of the GLC, the City of London took over management in 1989. In 2005 the City was looking to reduce its costs and shocked Heath and pond users by proposals to close the Mixed Pond and reduce hours at the remaining ponds. After a major public campaign a compromise was reached whereby swimming was not radically curtailed and the present charges for swimming were introduced but were not rigorously enforced. This scheme in practice did not bring in as much revenue as the City hoped. The City assert that this is because few swimmers are willing to pay but the swimmers’ associations maintain that the City failed to introduce efficient methods to pay. For many years the associations have been telling the City that there is a lack of clear information about how to pay, that the payment machines are often out of order and that it is not easy to get a season ticket. Only this year has it been possible to pay for a season ticket online and even now you do not receive a ticket or even receipt unless you go to the lido.
The present push by the City to reduce costs follows a report by the Health and Safety Executive which recommended that the City increase the staffing of the ponds which will clearly put up costs. The City started a consultation with the swimming associations in January this year about measures they wish to introduce in May. The process for doing this will be to put a proposal to the Heath Consultative Committee on March 9th which will in turn make a recommendation to the Heath Management Committee on March 11th. The public may attend but not speak at these meetings.
During the consultation with the swimmers’ reps the City outlined a series of options about the scale of charges and method of enforcement. The swimmers’ rep.s strongly recommended that for the coming season the City adopt the option of minimal change while putting right the problems with information and payment. In those circumstances they offered to cooperate with these improvements and encourage a culture whereby people play unless they cannot afford to or have strong objections on principle. Instead the Superintendent of Hampstead Heath intend to put to the management Committee the option involving the doubling day charges combined with strict enforcement. The season ticket, however, will be held at the current price this season and more concessions are suggested.
The MPA AGM was held on 24th October 2019 and thanks go to member Rodney for providing the perfect pondside location for the 15 or so attendees present. Full meeting minutes can be reviewed by clicking the button below.
Apart from a general review of the year's activities our formal association Constitution was agreed and signed off and can be downloaded and reviewed on via the link below.
One topic that came up doing something to commemorate the writer, intellectual and Mixed Pond regular, Al Alvarez, who died on September 23rd aged 90. He was an important figure in literary London as you can see from the many obituaries of him such as this one from The Guardian.
Our discussion turned out to be especially appropriate because at the end of our meeting two of Al's granddaughters arrived where we were meeting because they happened to have been invited to dinner. They were thrilled to hear about the plans for him to be commemorated at the pond and we hope to have more news in time for next season (which starts early May).
Membership renewal notices will be sent to mailing list members in April/May next year.
Until then, keep warm!