Keir Starmer backs temporary late night gate closures at Primrose Hill
This follows a spike in anti-social behaviour and crime in the park
Labour party leader Keir Starmer has expressed support for temporary late night gate closures at Primrose Hill, currently London’s only permanently open park.
This follows a high level of complaints reported to Starmer’s office about late-night antisocial behaviour at the park, as well as a petition calling for a curfew which garnered over 500 signatures.
Temporary barriers have already been installed in an attempt to prevent a rise in crime and antisocial behaviour, following complaints that lockdown and Covid restrictions had resulted in a rowdy “drug-taking and drug-dealing” crowd coming to the park.
London university students living around Regents Park have flocked to Primrose Hill for decades, meaning that the closure plans are pretty heart-breaking to hear. It’s nearly as scared as the BT Tower is to UCL Students.
The closure plans have also angered campaigners, who are disappointed at the Labour leader’s support of a “Tory agenda”.
Local resident, Amy McKeown, set up a “Keep the Hill Open” campaign two weeks ago. She told the Guardian that the decision is “just incredible, though, isn’t it”, pointing to a small group enjoying the views and adding: “there they are, drinking Fanta and coconut water, perfectly quiet and peaceful.
“Closing and gating Primrose Hill is a nuclear and disproportionate solution for a temporary problem that could be managed by more effective policing.”
McKeown currently has more than 500 signatories in her petition against Starmer’s intervention.
In response to the “Keep the Hill Open” campaign, Starmer’s office said that they had received “first-hand accounts of very loud noise disturbance, fights and attacks on residents” which encouraged Keir to meet virtually with the park’s management to “do more to ensure the disturbance ended”.
Catherine Usiskin, another local resident, also expressed frustration, saying: “It’s just so dispiriting that without full consultation, a minority of people have managed to effect a pretty radical change. To suddenly walk out and see a locked gate in front of me was shocking last night.
“I’ve heard these young people described as hordes of so-called scum, drug addicts, criminals and so on, and a lot of the insults have had a racist tinge to them. And a class one.
“But this is a public park, not a private estate for the block of 300 flats or the houses that back on to the park. Where else can people go for free to relax with friends?”
Updated: A previous version of this article claimed that Keir Starmer backed permanent gate closures at Primrose Hill as well as the creation of nine-foot barriers around the perimeter. This not correct.