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BBQ beef: Islington Council consulting on barbecue byelaw for extra enforcement powers in Highbury Fields

PUBLISHED: 18:14 07 February 2019 | UPDATED: 11:32 08 February 2019

Smoky barbecues in Highbury Fields last year.

Smoky barbecues in Highbury Fields last year.

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Islington Council is consulting on a new byelaw to give officers the power to "extinguish, seize or dispose of" barbecues burning in restricted areas of Highbury Fields.

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

The proposed byelaw would help the council enforce restrictions it put in July, which limit where people can barbecue to a marked patch of grass, on the west side of the field, and set a 9pm curfew when cooking must cease.

This followed a legal battle with the Save Highbury Fields campaign group, concerned by smoke and smell pollution, in 2016.

“Allowing barbecues in our parks has been very popular,” said Islington Council’s environment chief, Cllr Claudia Webbe.

“Most Islington residents don’t have any private outdoor space, and our policy gives them a chance to enjoy a barbecue outdoors.

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

“We have also listened to local concerns about barbecues in Highbury Fields, have taken account of different views and are making appropriate changes.

“We are now consulting on the introduction of a byelaw – as ever we expect anyone who barbecues in our parks to do so responsibly, cleanly and safely.”

The London Fire Brigade urged town hall chiefs to implement a total ban on all park barbecues during last year’s heatwave – a council source at the time admitted Islington didn’t have the power to do this, and it instead relied on good will.

But Islington could take such measures on health and safety grounds if the byelaw is passed.

Full details of the consultation can be found here.

Sole opposition councillor Caroline Russell (Green, Highbury East) cautiously welcomed the proposal, but said it didn’t go far enough.

“It’s a real shame it’s taken the council so long to decide to engage with people in Highbury,” she said. “People have raised concerns over the Fields being used as a late-night party spot in summer. This was particularly heightened after the shooting in July.

“A time limit for using the park for barbecues is long overdue. I hope people use this consultation to feed back views on smoky air, fire risk and waste produced by the current barbecue policy.”

But she added: “I’m very surprised that disposable barbecues are allowed under the byelaw. These produce the worst smoke pollution and other other councils like Hackney have already banned them.”

Hackney Council announced a ban on disposable barbecues in London Fields in March last year, months before – like Islington – urging people not to cook anything in the park at all because of the fire risk during the heatwave.

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