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Town Hall to restrict use of barbecues in Highbury Fields

Campaigners reach settlement with the Town Hall ahead of court case but no outright ban

04 July, 2018 — By Emily Finch

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to ban barbecues at Highbury Fields have reached a settlement with the Town Hall which will see BBQs restricted to just one area in the park.

The sausage sizzlers will be confined to the “Mother Field” area by Highbury Crescent and their use will be banned after 9pm. Lawyers acting for the Save Highbury Fields campaign group lodged a nuisance complaint at Highbury Magistrate’s Court last year and their case was due to be brought before a magistrate this morning. But the group reached a settlement with the council two weeks ago with the Town Hall having to cough up a “substantial contribution” to the campaign group’s legal costs.

Spokesman for Save Highbury Fields, Michael Kuhn, said: “They wanted to settle and we are happy to settle. They have to give a little and we have to give a little.”

More than 1,200 people signed an online petition to ban BBQs on the field which campaigners say are polluting and a health hazard for residents and users of the park.

The Town Hall lifted a ban on BBQs in the 20 acre park in 2011 and have consistently defended their policy which they say allows people without gardens enjoy meals outdoors.

Mr Kuhn, who lives next to the the fields, said: “We tried for eight years to get the council to engage with us. It’s quite ridiculous constituents have to go to court to have a conversation with the council. That is the sad thing about all of this.”

Green councillor Caroline Russell, who represents Highbury East ward, said she was “glad” that the Town Hall were listening – she has previously called for a BBQ ban at Highbury Fields.

“The smoke from these BBQs does have an impact on people’s health. I suspect we might end up with a situation with no BBQs in the park in the future. Highbury Fields was a green lung, an oasis in the borough with the least amount of green space,” she said.

The Town Hall have agreed to sponsor a new local law to regulate the use of BBQs in the fields following a consultation process. This is expected to be completed by next summer.

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Islington’s Labour environment leader, said: “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.”

A new BBQ area will be marked on the fields in the coming weeks.

As part of the settlement Save Highbury Fields cannot reveal how much they are receiving from the Town Hall to cover their legal costs.

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