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Camden New Journal - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published: 21 February 2008
Forget narrow lanes, give us new pool

THE publication on the same page of last week’s paper of Councillor Mike Greene’s letter about parking and Mark Waghorn’s complaint about the narrow lanes at Swiss Cottage baths needs addressing.
Cllr Greene seems to be exemplifying the council’s distasteful practice of chest-pounding while poo-pooing the policies of political opponents.
The reality is that the present administration is equally human, and makes equally grave errors of judgment, but won’t admit it.
Reminded (by me, several times) of current shortcomings in parking control, street lighting and other problems in the Swiss Cottage area, councillors did nothing and said even less. Not even a proper response! I live three minutes’ walk from the Swiss Cottage baths, but I choose instead to travel quite a long way to get a decent swim. Not only are the lanes too narrow they are also, like the Straits of Dover, very crowded! Only a few months ago, you reported on a Swiss Cottage swimmer who suffered consequent head injuries in the pool. Complaint to the baths management, I understand, got him nowhere. But with a length (only 25 metres) of less than 15 times that of an average swimmer, the pool is to say the least claustrophobic, if not hazardous, and requires from its users far too much twisting and turning. This is quite unsuitable for older swimmers.
Camden had a golden opportunity to provide decent facilities when the existing (and not so old) baths at Swiss Cottage were pulled down.
But no, as if to demonstrate the reality of their gleaming green credentials, the council instead approved new underground car parks, with steep, sub-standard, ramps, so that both the Hampstead Theatre and the award-winning erection facing Winchester Road and overhanging Adelaide Road – richly served as they are by many bus routes and a Tube station – boast private car spaces galore.
Meanwhile, the cross-Finchley Road cycle route at Swiss Cottage now disappears into a market stall pitch; there are lamentably inadequate cycle parking racks; and, even worse, the area is an open obstacle course of parked vehicles. Add to that the poor street lights in King’s College Road, for instance, which haven’t been upgraded for over 50 years, and the lighting in Fellows Road and Haverstock Hill which have actually been downgraded recently.
Time was when someone among the employees at the Town Hall was actually responsible for noting and responding to such issues, but that seems to be long gone. An officer used to log and reply to enquiries and complaints, and another would scour the media, investigate wrongs raised, and respond to and try to right them. Today, if they don’t feel like it they simply don’t answer.
It is surely scandalous that London is virtually the only European capital having only two or three 50-metre pools to serve a seven-digit population spread over hundreds of hectares.
With commitment, Camden could now really show its colours, by banning new car parks and ridding the borough of many existing ones, a lot of which are underused or not used at all for legitimate parking; by ceasing to issue public parking permits to residents enjoying private parking space; by erecting lots more cycle racks… and by providing a decent swimming pool.
That, not a car park, is a fundamental health facility that every resident deserves.
Roger Juer
Briary Close, NW3

Send your letters to: The Letters Editor, Camden New Journal, 40 Camden Road, London, NW1 9DR or email to The deadline for letters is midday Tuesday. The editor regrets that anonymous letters cannot be published, although names and addresses can be withheld. Please include a full name, postal address and telephone number. Letters may be edited for reasons of space.

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