The Independent London Newspaper
24th May 2017

'It's time to trust the public': Camden Council to lift barbecue ban in parks

    New cabinet councillor Sally Gimson is lifting the ban on barbecues in green spa

    New cabinet councillor Sally Gimson is lifting the ban on barbecues in green spaces such as Waterlow Park

    Published: 2 July, 2014

    A BAN on barbecues in Camden’s parks is to be lifted with the public allowed to cook smoky food in any of the borough’s council-owned green spaces, the New Journal can reveal.

    The council has previously been cast as “killjoys” after upholding a firm rule against the cooking of food in parks for several years, citing the damage barbecues can do to grass and the risk of injury to people.

    But new cabinet councillor Sally Gimson said this evening (Wednesday) it was time to “trust” the public and help make summer more fun.

    She was speaking after the New Journal saw a letter she had written to the “friends” groups of Camden’s parks, alerting them to her decision.

    The ban will be lifted at the start of the summer school holidays.

    In her letter Cllr Gimson sought to reassure park users and offered to meet those with concerns.

    The ban will remove the restriction from council-managed parks right across the borough, from Russell Square to Waterlow Park. It does not cover Hampstead Heath, which is run by the City of London, or Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill, which are under the control of the Royal Parks Agency.

    “One of the things I’m particularly keen on is for those of our residents who don’t have gardens to be able to use and enjoy their local parks over the summer,” Cllr Gimson’s letter said. “Waterlow Park is in my ward and one of its founding principles was to create a garden for the gardenless. 

    “Many families live in small flats and cannot afford to go away for the summer holidays. I want them to be able to enjoy the same things those of us lucky enough to have gardens or to go on holiday can do – such as being able to barbecue.” 

    It is her first big policy call since being elevated to Camden’s council cabinet by the Labour group last month, a move which saw her take over a communities brief which includes the overseeing of parks and open spaces.

    Cllr Gimson said that gas and disposable barbecues would still be ruled out, but portable ones, “which you can get for a tenner”, would now be permitted.

    When the restriction was lifted in Islington, London Mayor Boris Johnson said he was against the move and would investigate the decision, before it was clarified that he did not have the power to intervene further. 

    Cllr Gimson added: “The reports from Islington have been overwhelmingly positive in places like Highbury Fields. It might be that some sites work better than others but it is a one-year trial to see how we get on.”


    So excited!

    I don't have a garden and have to go to Islington to have a bbq. Absolutely delighted by this news!

    Beware the anonymous support

    Beware the anonymous support - it's probably Sally Gimson's family drumming up support!

    Now I feel loved by my council

    This is the best ever. I can at least take the family to the park to enjoy a quiet bbq. I don't have a garden to enjoy with my kids


    Great. Can we now have the firework display on Primrose Hill back, taken over for a short time by the council, in a cynical move to close it down?

    BBQ's and Fireworks

    Interesting that Camden Council has decided to change its policy on barbecues in Camden Parks. I wonder if it will become a voting issue at the next local elections. When Islington Council lifted the BBQ ban in 2011 Boris Johnson was against it; London Mayor Boris Johnson Named BBQ ‘Killjoy’ and it seems the subject became a voting issue in the London Borough of Islington; Islington Council by-election hustings - The burning issue of barbecues. I also found another BBQ related articles on the Islington Tribune website (The CNJ's sister paper) which made me chuckle; Councillor says blaming barbecues for Islington's air pollution is 'the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard'. Who knew the subject of BBQ's could be so entertaining and cause such a passionate response from people!

    Hampstead Heath is managed by the City of London Corporation (and their Hampstead Heath website says BBQ's aren't allowed) so I can't imagine they'll reconsider letting people have BBQ's on Hampstead Heath .

    Although Primrose Hill is located wholly within the London Borough of Camden (the City of Westminster runs along one edge) it is the responsibility of The Royal Parks, so no BBQ's there. They have a Primrose Hill page on their website but it's mostly about Regent's Park with not much mention of Primrose Hill except for a press release about fireworks being forbidden on Guy Fawkes/Bonfire Night and the park closing at 9pm each night from 2-5 November.

    As we're talking about fireworks, let me tell you about 5th November 2013. I was up on Primrose Hill on Fireworks Night, as were many others, not to let off fireworks, but to watch fireworks going off all over London as it's such a magnificent view from the top of Primrose Hill. At 9pm there were police on every gate turning people away. The police also told everyone already in the park to leave. So a park that is open 24 hours a day, all year, is closed at night on what must be the most popular days/nights of the year for people wanting a good view of fireworks in London's night sky. The amount of police at the park (which were mainly Camden Police) compared to the number of citizens meant the police could just have easily let people enjoy the views of London (and patrolled the park) instead of putting all their efforts in to ruining peoples evenings - wouldn't that be a better use of valuable public resources?

    That's absolutely ridiculous

    That's absolutely ridiculous - having recently discovered the views over London from Primrose Hill it would be the perfect spot to watch fireworks across London. So much for being a free country. Nanny knows best, it seems.

    The ban on fireworks (and

    The ban on fireworks (and Chinese lanterns) in Primrose Hill is not a Council's decision, but a policy from the Royal Parls Agency, which runs Regents Park and Primrose Hill (and other parks in London)

    the ban...

    Maybe currently, but the decision to end the Annual November firework event, that ran for many years, with minimal problems, was very much a Camden Council initiative. 'Heath and safety' issues were cited.

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