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Barbecues on Highbury Fields not safe says Islington councillor

Cllr Caroline Russell is calling on the town hall to increase safety measures Cllr Caroline Russell is calling on the town hall to increase safety measures

Friday, July 11, 2014
12:06 PM

The largest green space in the borough is not safe for barbecues, a newly elected councillor has said.

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SAFE BARBECUING TIPS

1. Before starting your barbecue, make sure it is on a stand and not placed directly on the grass.

2. Consider using a “kettle” type rather than a foil one – this reduces smoke.

3. Barbecue in the centre of the fields – not near homes as smoke can disrupt residents’ enjoyment at home.

4. Take some water to put out the barbecue once it’s finished.

5. Make sure barbecues are cool before putting them in the bin.

6. Dispose of all litter properly, and recycle your rubbish wherever possible.

7. Keep children supervised at all times.

Islington was the first borough in London to remove a blanket ban on barbecues in its parks in 2011, but sole opposition and Green Party member Cllr Caroline Russell has said the council is not doing enough to ensure the safety of residents and staff.

The ban was removed so that residents who live by parks like Highbury Fields and don’t have gardens would not miss out on one of Britain’s favourite summer activities.

But following an incident in which she saw a council worker having to stamp out a bin fire caused by a barbecue, and having witnessed the weekend build up of rubbish, the Highbury East councillor is calling for greater measures to prevent dangerous fires.

Cllr Russell said: “Sadly the parks’ popularity is not being matched by investment in its amenities. Bin fires are increasing and discarded barbecues are causing fires in bin bags stacked by overflowing bins.

“Children, parents, friends, and families should be free to enjoy the space the park provides without having to be confronted by piles of litter and disused barbecues and those working for the Council should be protected from the risk of burns from smouldering refuse.

“I’m calling on the council to make a commitment to clean-up the park, increase the bins available and provide facilities to safely dispose of barbecues and recycle picnic debris.

“Everyone enjoys sharing food with friends but safety must be managed both for park visitors and those who work for the council.”

Camden Council recently followed Islington’s example and is set to lift the ban, with councillors saying they expected residents to be “responsible”.

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Islington Council’s executive member for environment, said the council had upped safety measures in response to the hot weather.

She said: “Lifting the barbecue ban has been very popular. Thousands of our residents with no outdoor space can now enjoy a barbecue.

“We have a longstanding risk assessment for dealing with fires in bins, and update it as appropriate.

“We constantly review procedures and want barbecuing to be clean and safe.

“We are carrying out extra park patrols on sunny weekends to help make sure people are barbecuing responsibly, and have done extra and late litter collections to clear up barbecue rubbish.”

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