Barbecue slabs on Meadows could be rolled out elsewhere

A PILOT scheme on the Meadows that has seen paved slab areas introduced in a bid to cut down on the amount of grass areas burnt by barbecues could be rolled out across the city.

The slabbed areas were launched on Edinburgh's biggest park in May, followed by a series of signs a month later, urging people use the slabs and not to place barbecues directly on to the grass.

City council chiefs are to meet later this year to judge the success of the scheme - and discuss whether to introduce similar measures at parks and gardens across the city.

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They claim it is too early to say if the Meadows pilot has been a success.

Meadows user groups have called for an outright ban to be enforced on all barbecue use on grass areas.

Councillor Robert Aldridge, the city's environment leader, said: "The pilot taking place in the Meadows is still at an early stage and no decision has been taken on whether we will roll this out to other parks. At the end of summer we hope to be able to determine how successful it has been and this will inform future decisions.

"Our parks and green spaces are wonderful attributes to the city and we want to encourage people to use and enjoy them, but in a responsible manner and so they do not potentially spoil the enjoyment for others."

The council's management rules for public parks state that any lighting of fires or barbecues is prohibited unless written permission is obtained from the council. But the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 does not allow for barbecues to be banned - meaning that the rules need to be updated.

Paul Godzik, a councillor for the Meadows/Morningside ward, welcomed the introduction of barbecue slabs.

He said: "This has been an issue of concern for a number of years. Everything possible should be done to encourage people to use the Meadows - but to do so properly - and the council should be congratulated for taking this measure. Many people around the Meadows have no access to a garden."

The problem of grass being scorched by barbecues is worst in areas where flats with no gardens surround the park or garden - meaning it is unlikely that slab areas would be introduced at every park or garden.

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However, parks including Leith Links and Harrison Park have been cited as examples of places where the initiative could be extended.

Chris Wigglesworth, convener of the Friends of the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links, said more still needs to be done to stop people continuing to put barbecues on the grass. He said: "If people don't put them on the slabs they should tell them to put them out. If the slabs are used then that's all well and good and you could possibly have more of them but you've also got to stop people using the grass."