SIR Keir Starmer has stuck his oar into the row over new compulsory charges to swim at the Hampstead ponds.

The Labour leader has written to the City of London Corporation to ask why it is not trialling a voluntary payments system or introducing a “hardship fund” for bathers with less money. Prices for adult pond swimmers rose from £2 to £4 earlier this year.

Starmer, the local MP, said he wanted “to understand the rationale behind refusing to at least trial Option 2” – an arrangement which would make payments voluntary. He added that it was a “concern” that the new online booking system means those without internet access cannot use the ponds. Alix Lemkin of campaigning group Forum ’71 said the group had been trying to get the issue noticed by Sir Keir. “We did leaflet him one day. It’s good to get his attention,” she told The Londoner.

“We’re very happy that he’s making some noises.” Anne Fairweather, of the City of London Corporation, told the Ham and High the ponds were accessible to people from all backgrounds, adding that a new “support system” would be introduced for swimmers unable to afford the charges.

Pressure builds on the City.

MI5, MI6 and GCHQ are seeking six auditors. A jobs listing reads: “So don’t just think of financial controls. Think of covert surveillance, agent running and emerging technologies … When you join us, it’s all yours to audit.” Surely this isn’t related to Dominic Cummings’s recent tour of the agencies ahead of a defence and foreign policy review?

Andi Oliver

CHEF Andi Oliver has a message for food giant Heinz: “Stop mucking around” and get tinned spotted dick “back out there”. The Great British Menu judge explains to the Off Menu podcast: “The best part of my day at school was pudding. Spotted dick or jam roly-poly, of course.” She adds: “I like them when I’m hungover … I want it in a tin, next to the Fray Bentos.” Canned joy


That mooted US trade deal isn’t looking so hot. Lauri Torgerson of American charity Farm Sanctuary warns that “consumers want to know that the animals they are eating have been treated well… we can’t say that in the United States, at all” and praises UK standards. Given the PM’s fiancée Carrie Symonds is a great supporter of animal rights – and Togerson’s remarks were written up in industry mag Farming UK, a huge headache for the government is coming

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Jacob Rees-Mogg posed with fellow Tory MP Richard Drax yesterday as they ate ice creams, with which Drax struggled. “Boho Gelato… may even turn me into a Bohemian,” Mogg said. Fat chance. But he adds “Sixtus might have a lesson or two to give the great Richard Drax though in how to eat an ice cream.” That’s Sixtus his three year old child. Ouch.

It’s a boys’ day out for Becks and sons​

David Beckham enjoyed a meal in the sun with his three sons Romeo, Brooklyn and Cruz aka “my boys”. Singer Emeli Sandé teased her new album saying her fourth record “is under construction”. Lily Allen wrinkled her face as she posed in a leopard print bikini in Croatia, And Keith Lemon (AKA comic Leigh Francis), dressed up as “ginger aquaman” explaining: “today’s loungewear”. Are scales comfy?

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