Save Highbury Fields! Group taking legal action against Islington Council to block barbecues

PUBLISHED: 17:11 12 September 2017 | UPDATED: 17:42 14 September 2017

Smoky barbecues in Highbury Fields. Picture: submitted to Islington Gazette

Smoky barbecues in Highbury Fields. Picture: submitted to Islington Gazette

Vanessa Langsdale - DO NOT CREDIT IN PUBLIC!

The Highbury Fields barbecue row has reached new heights – with activists preparing to take legal action against Islington Council.

Islington Council has allowed barbecues in Highbury Fields since 2011. Picture: Carline ChengIslington Council has allowed barbecues in Highbury Fields since 2011. Picture: Carline Cheng

Protest group Save Highbury Fields said it’s going to present a nuisance complaint against the town hall this week at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court.

But the council came back fighting, saying allowing barbecues in the fields is “incredibly popular” and vowing: “We are happy to defend it.”

Islington’s policy to allow barbecues on the popular green space has seen sparks fly ever since it was introduced six years ago.

Studies have revealed soaring levels of toxic fumes on days when barbecues are used. Homeowners near the fields say they are unable to open their windows on hot days. Some have also claimed health problems have been made worse by the plumes of smoke.

Announcing the legal action, Michael Kuhn, of Save Highbury Fields, said: “It’s the same old story. Islington Council implemented this in 2011, and it is still refusing to consider any alternatives – not even allocate a restricted area of the fields where people can have a barbecue while closing off other parts.

“Now we have 1,200 people signed up to our petition, and 50 people who have contributed to the legal costs [more than £8,000 has been raised]. People from all walks of life are behind us. The council has left us with no choice.”

Islington’s key justification for allowing barbecues is many people in the borough not having their own garden. But Mr Kuhn countered: “Highbury Fields is wonderful place to have a picnic, or play sport, or take your children. There are loads of things you can do. Why is it so necessary to release noxious smoke into the air?”

Cllr Claudia Webbe, the town hall’s environment leader, said: “Allowing barbecues in our parks and open spaces has been incredibly popular. Most people living in Islington don’t have a garden, and this gives everyone a chance to enjoy a barbecue with friends and family in our open spaces.

“We believe our policy is right, and we stand by it and are happy to explain and defend it. We expect anyone who barbecues to do so responsibly, cleanly and safely, and we have taken extra steps at Highbury Fields including barbecue disposal bins and extra patrols on busy days in the summer.”

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