Friday, 26 April 2019

Ban on barbecues in riverside meadows set to be extended

Ban on barbecues in riverside meadows set to be extended

THE ban on barbecues at a riverside beauty spot in Henley may be extended.

The town council issued a temporary ban in Marsh Meadows in July due to the increased fire risk during the hot weather which made the grass very dry.

It was also unhappy about the amount of rubbish and other waste generated by visitors.

The council put up warning signs and employed a park ranger to patrol the area at busy times to assist its parks services staff.

Now Karl Bishop, the council’s acting parks manager, says it would be best if barbecues were banned from the land altogether.

Speaking at a meeting of the council’s open and green spaces sub-committee, he said the temporary ban had reduced the amount of waste left there.

Park warden Kyle Dowling said barbecues had damaged the grass and time was being taken up by clearing the rubbish. He said: “There are burnt patches all over the marsh where people have had a barbecue and tipped the hot coals on to the grass. There are so many patches.

“With the rubbish it would take two, maybe three, members of staff three hours to collect the rubbish while doing the maintenance.

“It was so much better on both these fronts when the ban was in place. People understood they couldn’t do it anymore.”

Councillor Sarah Miller said: “I think it shows a complete lack of respect. If you can’t respect our meadows — I know it sounds awful — but go somewhere else.

“The waste was awful this summer and there were also problems with dog walkers. I would rather say ‘no’.”

Councillor Laurence Plant said that having a space where people could have a barbecue helped attract visitors.

He said: “It would still be lovely to have one area designated for barbecues, even if it was purpose-built.”

Councillor David Eggleton said that having a complete ban would not be fair on people who followed the rules.

“You can’t penalise everybody for some people’s actions,” he said. “A designated area that is monitored, that’s what we need.”

But Mr Bishop said: “When you have a small designated area and you have families come down, if they can’t get in, then they will go elsewhere. If you have a flat ban there would not be as much rubbish.”

Councillor Donna Crook said the council would need to hire more staff to monitor the area properly.

She said: “In London there are five parks where you can have a barbecue and they are really heavily staffed but we don’t have the manpower. If I see someone with a barbecue then I get really quite cross.”

The committee recommended the ban stays in place next year while looking at potential other sites where barbecues could be allowed.

The issue will be discussed again by the council’s recreation and amenities committee.

Meanwhile, Sally Rankin, of the Henley Wildlife Group, believes there should be a campaign to pick up litter in the town.

She told the sub-committee: “We should have a campaign for people to pick up five pieces of litter as they go somewhere. Maybe we should have a civic pride campaign?”

Councillor Eggleton, who chairs Henley in Bloom, said he would take this to the next committee meeting for discussion.

• What do you think? Write to: Letters, Henley Standard, Caxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley or email letters

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