Primrose Hill has been a wonderful place to live in and to visit for many years. However, over the last year or so, residents living close to the top of the hill have been plagued by anti-social behaviour, particularly overnight. Frustration and outrage are growing. Why and how has this awful situation been allowed to grow and continue?
Local resident the Forest Gardener writes:
Everyone in Primrose Hill loves the park. But in the last couple of years a Jekyll and Hyde situation has been starting to emerge, made worse by lockdown. In the daytime families and friends sit out, games are played, runners pant up the hill and then sail back down. But at nighttime the park has become less safe, a party venue without rules. Many locals feel the catalyst is drug dealers.
Their cars line many of the perimeter roads in the evening and until 2 – 3am. One can spot them as often they leave their headlights on continuously and engines running. Sometimes they hoot their horns to signal to partygoers they are there, rather as the ice cream vans chimes did of old. For those too wasted to make the journey down the hill on foot for supplies, one car boasts an electric scooter which nips up with drugs to the party venue, the top of the hill, i.e. a sort of Deliveroo.
The dealers have created their own market, using social media to advertise raves. Now the park is a known nightclub venue. People now regularly come from other counties to party and there are apparently even party houses for accommodation. The cars roll up from 11pm, or earlier, to 2am, and big speakers come out of the boots. The amplified music restricts many residents’ sleep to a handful of hours a night even on cold, overcast days. Drugs turf wars are evident and there is often a sense of menace. We now have one resident who has been assaulted twice.
Residents on the Kingsland Estate have reported rubbish dumped on the estate following parties, and they regularly find drug paraphernalia, urine, faeces and condoms. Residents from around the whole park share exactly the same – drugs, hours of nighttime music, aggression, vomit. Although the park welcomes all night visitors, in its infinite wisdom it has decided to lock all toilets at 8pm after which, as a Parks official put it, “visitors should plan their visits responsibly taking their toilet requirements into consideration”. Good grief.
Keir Starmer’s office have been bombarded with complaints since last summer and Georgia Gould, a Parks Trustee, has had weekly emails from worried residents. Ward Councillors have all come out with demands that the park is closed from late at night until dawn, to protect from more assaults and to stop the all night amplified music – last Autumn Pat Callaghan said: “Is it going to take a serious incident whether to a reveller or Police officer for the park personnel to act.”
The Met are expending significant amounts of their scarce resource coming out multiple times nightly but often they are outnumbered or the crowds re-congregate as soon as they go and turn the speakers back on. One resident who has lived here for decades said: “I was part of a group who protested to keep the park open at night; now I would form a ring of hands to have it closed at night. It’s appalling.”
This is the sentiment you hear from hundreds and hundreds of those who live in surrounding roads. Of course people have looked to the Royal Parks for action, as much of this activity is prohibited, but residents are told it is the Met’s responsibility. However there was some good news from the Friends of Regents Park and Primrose Hill meeting about the 40 hedgehogs. One resident held his head in his hands, as the violence was only briefly touched upon – nothing is going to change until a hedgehog is killed, he groaned.
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