New Meadows barbecue policy leaves park damaged

Burnt grass has appeared on the Meadows caused by disposable barbecues. Picture: Julie Bull
Burnt grass has appeared on the Meadows caused by disposable barbecues. Picture: Julie Bull
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A HARDER stance against barbecuing in city parks has been accused of “going up in smoke” after green spaces were left with scorch marks.

Burnt grass patches now litter the Meadows – despite promises of a council crackdown against anyone lighting up and having irresponsible al fresco dining.

Thousands of sunseekers enjoyed weekend temperatures of 23C. But other park lovers were left disappointed with those who went outwith the designated barbecue areas, in the much-loved city centre space – causing damage to much of the area for the second year running.

Friends of the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links ­convenor, Heather Goodare, spoke to several groups she saw flouting the ban.

The 81-year-old – who went armed with her trademark oven gloves to move offending barbecues on to stones – said many did not know about the new rules.

“It is frustrating. I can’t spend all my time going up and being a policeman,” she said. “The oven gloves certainly came in useful again, particularly on Sunday night when I moved a few barbecues.

“It’s quite easy to find stones to put them on if you have a look.”

The friends group called for stricter regulations after extensive damage was caused to grassy areas last summer.

New guidelines – which can lead to park bans for persistent offenders – were introduced by the council in February but are now being tested in the recent hot weather. City council wardens are now patrolling barbecue hotspots across the Capital to monitor and take sanctions against irresponsible chefs.

But Heather said she hoped more could be done to highlight the issue.

She added: “There were a few groups having barbecues in the places where they used to be allowed.

“I gave them the new maps but I think a lot of people still don’t know about the new rules.

“Most people were perfectly polite when I told them but more needs to be done than me asking people to move.

“We really need to get the message out that there are new sanctions and they will be enforced.”

Environment convener, Councillor Lesley Hinds, said wardens had been out across the city over the weekend – and made a fresh appeal for people to stick to the areas allotted for barbecues.

She said: “The recent ­glorious weather has meant that residents have been able to enjoy Edinburgh’s beautiful parks. However, disposable barbecues damage the grass and leave unsightly scorch marks.

“We are asking people to please use the slabs provided for barbecues and not to place them directly on the grass.

“I would also like to remind park users to only use nearby public toilets, and to either dispose of rubbish properly in bins or take it home with them.”

The grass is expected to take several weeks to recover with more decent weather forecast this coming week.

Temperatures are expected to reach 23C again by Friday with a Meteo Group spokesman saying Edinburgh is in line for more sunny weather.

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service chiefs said they had already been called out to blazes caused by barbecues, taking firefighters away from serious incidents.

A spokesman said: “Make a plan to have a safe event, keep pets and children clear from the barbecue and most importantly never use petrol on a fire.

“When you have finished make sure hot coals are ­extinguished fully before ­disposing of them.”

Exclusion order could last one year

THE new rule bans: “Lighting barbecues outwith designated barbecue sites, where these are provided, or in areas or in a manner likely to burn or scorch the ground or cause danger or nuisance to other park users or neighbouring residents and failing to remove litter associated with barbecues and picnics. Where a person has persistently contravened or attempted to contravene these rules and in the council’s opinion is likely to contravene them again, the council may decide to make that person subject to an exclusion order for a specified period of up to one year.”