The Vale of Health: muddy and that's how we like it. Its a Heath not a park.
Too little too late? Possibly. But all the earlier campaigns having been ignored by the authorities, to do nothing now would be worse than the City of London Corporation, Camden Council and a High Court Judge allowing themselves to be hoodwinked by Atkins/AECOM, the consortium that stands to benefit from the dams' construction.
According to sources, Atkins is on 15% of the total bill that has recently risen from £17m to £23m. Meanwhile, its strategic partner, AECOM, landed the job of 'independent' advisor to Camden Council landing itself £18k for a 37 page report. A tidy sum considering it misled the authorities, public and press into thinking it was 'independent'. How could it be independent if it formed a consortium with the dams' designers and sales people, Atkins, in 2012? A 'three year strategic partnership' is what it says on an Atkins press release. And the result, exactly 3 years later - a huge contract to destroy the Heath.
It makes my blood boil that, of all things, Hampstead Heath has fallen pray to these vultures. Companies that have instilled fear of flooding from some fictional storm as a ruse in order to, as director of Atkins, Andrew Hughes, put it, 'put Atkins back into the first division of dam builders'.
Can we save the Vale of Health and, by the way, deny Atkins and Bam Nutall (the contractors) any payment for a job that simply doesn't need to be done? Can we hold to account the incompetence of Camden Council which failed to properly vet its 'independent' advisors? And can we force action against AECOM for misleading 10 elected councillors into believing they were receiving impartial, independent advice?
If Elizabeth Truss, the Environment Secretary and, for that matter, Tulip Siddiq MP, pull their fingers out and convince parliament to overrule this miscarraige of justice - both at High Court and Camden hearing level, maybe we can.
Please sign the petition now: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-hampstead-heath
Emmanuel Mustafa Goldstein,
Editor, Hampstead Village Voice.