CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

The City of London Corporation is the profiteering enemy of the poorest

19 March, 2020

‘The City of London Corporation is behaving in infamous and miserly way’

• THE age of truth, charity and social justice has passed, with the decision of the City of London to impose a compulsory £4 charge on swimmers of the Hampstead Heath ponds, (Confirmed: Compulsory charges WILL be introduced at Hampstead Heath swimming ponds, March 13).

It’s nearly 150 years of civic generosity to the poor, hard-up and troubled, who swam without charge, succeeded by a new and ugly form of civic, “rentier” profiteering.

The City of London Corporation is behaving in infamous and miserly way, in its stewardship of Hampstead Heath. Let no one ever forget that!

With regard to the swimming ponds, the corporation has exhibited cynicism and low cunning (camouflaging its own ineptitude in coin collection and representing that as swimmer dishonesty); holding consultations contrary to recommended local government practice; misleading and “two-timing” swimmers asking to make philanthropic contributions and in putting the interests of City claret and cognac drinkers, above those who have difficulty in paying the weekly groceries bill; some on the minimum national wage of £8:72 an hour, who the corporation, will now charge £4 for swimming in cold water ponds after nearly 150 years in which it has been charitably free.

On its own statistics, that will give our brave, banqueting, City burghers an operating profit margin, of about 250 per cent a swim.

That is good business! A very heaven of venture capitalist profitability.

In the process, they have snubbed the unanimous and wise, advice of the Hampstead Heath consultative committee after, year upon year, failing to co-operate with swimmers who have constantly requested a means to making philanthropic contributions, so that the Heath’s swimming ponds would remain free to the poorest of us – in so doing, ignoring its duty to accept charitable funds, when offered!

The corporation has, by all this, earned a new-found contempt, mistrust and even hatred (I use the word advisedly) of itself, among those who lack democratic power and influence over it, but are the victims of its particular brand of blind, self-aggrandising, City of London, social injustice.

It has in excess of £2.7billion of charitable funds, even after it as charged up to them, the costs of mayoral banqueting and entertainment and part of the City of London’s own, gold-plated, pension scheme’s actuarial deficit as unlikely, charitable causes.

To coin and extend a phrase, the City of London Corporation is the profiteering, enemy of poorest and the reasonable people who speak up for them.

ROBERT SUTHERLAND SMITH
Chairman, the United Swimmers Association

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