Talking about the Heath
24 September, 2020
• THE governance of Hampstead Heath is under threat from a City of London (CoL) governance review.
A report drafted by Lord Lisvane, a former civil servant, is proposing the abolition, merging or transfer of 73 committees and sub-committees.
Among this carnage are the Hampstead Heath, Highgate Wood and Queen’s Park Committee and the Hampstead Heath Consultative Committee with a proposal they both be absorbed into the Open Spaces Committee whose statutory function is “to make safe by felling, or otherwise, dangerous trees in the City generally”.
It is proposed to merge nine other committees and sub-committees with this august body which currently has 12 members.
Lord Lisvane has drafted the report purely addressing efficiency and cost saving. He appears to have dismissed most of the committees without bothering to find out what they do.
He does not address or appear to understand the value of consultative committees in protecting the image of the CoL.
With regard to the Heath, the consultive committee currently has 21 members representing the wide range of interests and activities the Heath provides.
The minimum number of members (19) is prescribed in the London Government Reorganisation (Hampstead Heath) Order 1989. It is hard to see how the CoL would deal with the many complex issues related to the Heath with no consultative structure.
The danger to the CoL is that the vacuum caused by the lack of a disciplined channel for comment would lead to a plethora of disparate groups fighting among themselves and the CoL.
These proposals are in draft form so there is still time for the CoL to come to its senses.
Dartmouth Park Conservation Area Advisory Committee rep on the Hampstead Heath Consultative Committee