Dec 22, 2023

Primrose Hill: Row over gate closure at night

Metal gates will be installed around Primrose Hill to facilitate its closure on weekends following a row over antisocial behaviour.

The park will be closed to the public from 22:00 until 06:00 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Royal Parks found in a public consultation that over 50% of respondents said they wanted the park locked at least three nights a week.

However, the move has divided residents living near the park in north London.

Former Channel 4 broadcaster and resident, Jon Snow, told the BBC he believed the problem was being over-exaggerated and that gates were "completely unnecessary".

"I am often out after 10pm with my dog and I have never seen any evidence of serious problems," he said.

"There is no reason why Royal Parks should spend the very little money they have on shutting the park.

"It's thoroughly invasive".

Other residents including Adam Donneky say it's right for the park to be closed at night over the weekend as it is "key to combatting antisocial behaviour".

"I've seen people using my front garden as a toilet, drug use in the park, and nearby shops experiencing theft and vandalism," he said.

"There have been unofficial parties with thousands of people attending where there's a sound system and DJ that plays through the night".

According to the Primrose Hill Community Association, antisocial behaviour in the park at night has been increasing since the first Covid lockdown in 2020.

In response to complaints, Royal Parks installed sets of temporary gates that have been in place since last year.

Those advocating for permanent gates say the current ones have been broken down and vandalised several times.

Neighbourhood watch groups have shared videos of antisocial behaviour, including illegal fireworks being let off on social media.

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But Amy Mckeown from Primrose Hill Keepers says closing the park at night is just shifting the problem onto the streets.

"We're dispersing people from an open well lit area onto residential streets to talk and drink there instead," she said.

"We're shutting the park from members of society who rely on access to an open 24 hour space.

"Gates are not the solution."

Royal Parks says following an engagement survey that asked 1,257 people whether the park should be routinely locked, it will now install black metal gates at the park entrances that will be "keeping with the landscape".

53.6% of respondents said the park should be locked at least over the weekend, whilst 23.2% said only for operational reasons such as extreme weather.

A smaller number, 23.2%, believed Primrose Hill should never be locked.

A Royal Parks spokesperson said: "It is incumbent on the Royal Parks to take a balanced and proportionate decision, which it has now done."

The park will also be closed on Bonfire Night, Halloween and New Year's Eve.

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Effects of litter on Royal Parks wildlife depicted

Royal Parks