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Islington Council to ban barbecues in most of Highbury Fields after neighbours take it to court

PUBLISHED: 10:40 04 July 2018 | UPDATED: 16:17 05 July 2018

Smoky barbecues in Highbury Fields in 2016. Picture: Caroline Russell

Smoky barbecues in Highbury Fields in 2016. Picture: Caroline Russell

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Islington Council this morning sensationally announced it would scale back barbecue use in Highbury Fields.

A map of where barbecues will be allowed in Highbury Fields. Picture: Islington CouncilA map of where barbecues will be allowed in Highbury Fields. Picture: Islington Council

The town hall said barbecues will still be allowed in Islington’s signature green space – but only in a marked area in a section near to Highbury and Islington station. In addition, barbecues will have to be put out by 9pm.

The new measures are expected to come into force within the next couple of weeks as the council draws up the permitted barbecue area.

It comes after the Save Highbury Fields campaign group took the council to court last year. The town hall has now come to an agreement with those campaigners.

Save Highbury Fields spokesman Barry O’Brien responded: “We are very pleased we have reached this sensible agreement with the council. We very much hope this will permit everyone to enjoy the Fields in future, and will significantly reduce the smoke and odours which affect residents living near to the Fields.”

Highbury East Cllr Caroline Russell, one of Islington’s most vocal campaigners against barbecues in parks, told the Gazette this morning: “It’s absolutely shocking the residents had to go to the lengths of threatening legal action in order to get the council to listen.

Barbeques have been banned due to the protracted heatwave. Picture: Carline ChengBarbeques have been banned due to the protracted heatwave. Picture: Carline Cheng

“I am glad the council is finally taking seriously the impact of constant barbecues in the Fields – on the users of the park as well local residents.

“It’s definitely a really good step forward but I still find it astonishing the council needs to let people cook meat on Highbury Fields in order to enjoy a picnic.”

Barbecues have been allowed on Islington’s largest park since 2011. It has been the subject of a long, bitter row between anti-barbecue campaigners and the council.

Some campaigners, like sole opposition Green Cllr Russell, had argued the barbecues caused soaring levels of toxic fumes.

Others, such as homeowners around the fields, were sick of the aromas caused by the barbecues. This was demonstrated in graphic detail by Stephanie Knight in 2016, who told the Gazette: “Burning sausages are invading our homes.”

And recent pictures shared with the Gazette have shown huge amounts of barbecue litter left in the park – including sharp knives in a borough where three young men have been stabbed to death in 2018 and a 14-year-old boy was stabbed in Upper Holloway on Sunday evening.

But the council has always argued people should be free to enjoy barbecues in the Fields because many people don’t have their own gardens.

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Islington’s Labour environment leader, said of the new policy today: “Allowing barbecues in our parks has been very popular. Most of our residents do not have their own private space to enjoy a summer meal outdoors, and we want our parks to benefit everyone in the local community.

“I am pleased that we have found common ground with those who opposed our barbecue policy in Highbury Fields. We have listened to them, taken account of their views, and made appropriate changes.

“The agreement secures our ambition to protect the freedom of people to have barbecues on the Fields, while also taking objections into account.

“As ever, we expect anyone who barbecues to do so responsibly, cleanly and safely, and these extra measures at Highbury Fields will help strengthen that.”

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