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Barbecues banned in London Fields for the rest of the year as costs to maintain park over summer spiral to £200,000

PUBLISHED: 12:59 28 March 2019 | UPDATED: 14:05 28 March 2019

Council data suggests barbecuing resulted in longer periods of two or more hours of ‘very high’ localised levels of particulate matter pollution during the summer of 2018 in London Fields. Picture: Hackney Council

Council data suggests barbecuing resulted in longer periods of two or more hours of 'very high' localised levels of particulate matter pollution during the summer of 2018 in London Fields. Picture: Hackney Council

Hackney Council

Barbecues have been banned in London Fields for the rest of the year, as the cost of managing the park over the summer skyrocketed to an estimated £200,000.

Costs of managing the litter left in London Fields have spiralled, and the council had to shell out £90,000 for additional parks and cleansing staff, £16,000 to hire and empty bins and skips, £60,000 for enforcement, and £30,000 for overnight cleaning. Picture: Hackney CouncilCosts of managing the litter left in London Fields have spiralled, and the council had to shell out £90,000 for additional parks and cleansing staff, £16,000 to hire and empty bins and skips, £60,000 for enforcement, and £30,000 for overnight cleaning. Picture: Hackney Council

Hackney Council cites damage, a huge amount of rubbish and increases in air pollution in the park during the summer months as the reasons behind the prohibition.

The park’s increasing popularity has apparently led to issues like scorched grass, littering, noise and the use of sound systems, illegal trading, aggression and intimidation towards staff, and people urinating in public.

Costs of managing the park include £90,000 for more parks and cleansing staff, £16,000 to hire and empty bins and skips, £60,000 for enforcement, £3,500 for fencing and £30,000 for overnight cleaning.

Air quality in and around the park was monitored during a temporary ban on barbecues, imposed on July 26 to prevent grass fires during the heat wave, and showed that short term levels of particulate matter were far less likely to be classed as medium, high or very high (using Daily Air Quality Index (DAQI) criteria) on any day.

On 87pc of the busiest days last summer however, when residents reported high numbers of barbecues, levels of particulate matter exceeded the “very high” DAQI criteria for one hour or more.

Deputy Mayor and parks chief Cllr Feryal Demirci said: “Suspending the use of barbecues in London Fields isn’t a decision we take lightly, as we know it’s one of the many reasons people visit the park during the summer.

“However, our monitoring shows that barbecues in the volumes we see in London Fields could potentially be causing harmful levels of particulate matter pollution and are also contributing to unsustainable management issues in the park. We’ll monitor air quality and other issues at London Fields this year and review the decision in late 2019.

“As with every summer, I want to welcome as many people as possible to our parks and green spaces. We’re now just asking people to bring a picnic instead of a barbecue so we can protect London Fields and its neighbours from unnecessary damage.”

Dean Wei, chair of the London Fields user group expressed his relief the council is continuing the suspension.

He said: Last summer when my son was born there were so many extremely hot days during which we couldn’t open our windows because the air quality was so bad.

“We really hope that London Fields will become, on a permanent basis, a picnic-only park where people can enjoy picnics and food bought from Broadway Market.

For now, we’re looking forward to seeing families, picnickers, dog walkers, runners and others enjoying this beautiful green space in the heart of our community.”

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