Barbecues face ban in Edinburgh parks

A couple enjoying a barbecue in The Meadows in Edinburgh. Picture: Scott Louden
A couple enjoying a barbecue in The Meadows in Edinburgh. Picture: Scott Louden
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BARBECUE lovers will be given a grilling and could be banned from Edinburgh’s parks under a major new crackdown against people who light irresponsible al fresco cooking fires..

With sizzling temperatures forecast this weekend, city council wardens will be out patrolling barbecue hotspots across the Capital to monitor and take sanctions against irresponsible chefs.

New park rules mean anyone found barbecuing outwith designated areas will be asked to move within permitted zones. Ultimately the tough new measures - designed to stop fires and grass damage - could lead to persistent flouters being evicted and banned from the city’s green spots for up to 12 months.

As temperatures reach highs of 22c this weekend, up to ten thousand people expected to flock to the Meadows and Links, testing the new powers to scorching point for the first time since they were introduced in February. The strict regulations were called for after extensive damage was caused to grassy areas last summer.

Pockets of scorched grass littered popular barbecue spots and fire-fighters were regularly called to bin fires caused by the smouldering portable trays.Councillor Lesley Hinds, ­Environment Convener, has warned burnt-sausage lovers not to flip if they are ­challenged by wardens.

She said: “What we are looking for is people to be sensible and use the designated areas – put something down so it’s not going to destroy the grass.

“Having a BBQ outwith a designated area is prohibited [by] our [new] Park Management Rules. Environmental wardens will be in the Meadows as part of their weekend patrols. We are hoping that people will be sensible and receptive to the park rules.” The hard-hitting burger blitz has been warmly welcomed by the Friends of the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links, who have been calling for a full BBQ ban.

The group’s convener Heather Goodare, 81, regularly patrols The Meadows armed with oven gloves – so she can remove smouldering £10 disposable cooking trays before they damage turf.

She said:“It’s an extremely difficult situation where we don’t want to be spoilsports but the damage to the grass can be really bad and it takes months to recover.”

The clampdown has also been welcomed by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. Chiefs hope it will allow crews to focus on serious incidents.

A spokesman said: “We’ve been called to parks across the city where disposable barbecues have not been extinguished safely and have caused a fire and emergency response.”

Ex-student Jayne Parker, 25, of Leith Walk, who regularly enjoys a barbecue with pals said lack of garden space will put people in the wardens’ firing line.

Of her barbecue experiences she admitted: “On occasions we did burn the grass.”

‘In most cases it’s fatal if not treated’

PETS can also be at risk in barbecue season - as Rocky the dog proved. The German Shepherd needed emergency surgery after swallowing a corn-on-the-cob husk. He was rushed to vet charity PDSA where he had a life-saving op. Senior vet Andrew Hogg said: “Sadly it’s something we see frequently, especially at barbecue season. In most cases it is fatal if not treated, as the husk can completely block the digestive system.” Edinburgh owner Lisa Cunningham said: “We’re very careful to watch Rocky now when we’re out and about!”

The charity is urging owners to monitor pets when eating outside.