‘Hipsters are ruining our park with their barbecues’ say London Fields neighbours

The mess left on London Fields at the weekend.

The mess left on London Fields at the weekend. - Credit: Archant

As usual, this month’s hot weather brought thousands of bearded baskers to the park, but neighbours say they have ruined it for everyone else.

Burnt grass courtesy of barbecues on London Fields.

Burnt grass courtesy of barbecues on London Fields. - Credit: Archant

Come the end of a weekend, the grass in the barbecue area is covered in litter or left burnt because cookers are not placed on stands.

Hackney pays security upwards of £56,000 to patrol the park, keeping noise down and ensuring barbecues aren’t put directly on the grass. But neighbours say it’s not working.

“It’s just not acceptable,” said Mike Hood, who has lived in the area for decades. “There are several local residents that do not want to use London Fields at the weekend because of the large influx of hipsters ruining our park.

“I am sure the shops down Broadway Market are doing a roaring trade and really appreciate large numbers of people buying up barbecues, drinks, food etc, only to turn up in London Fields, burn the grass and leave all of their rubbish behind for Hackney Council to clear up.

“But we are paying the council’s wages to clear up the mess.”

Another neighbour, Ivor Benjamin, said the problems have got worse year-on-year since 2011, when Hackney brought in the barbecue area, and said studies in Highbury Fields about toxic fumes impacting neighbours must also ring true in London Fields.

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“The council is very keen, and rightly so, to cut pollution and last year issued a Hackney air quality document designed to get pollution down.

“But barbecue fumes are considerably more toxic and, in the case of a sunny day and 30 or 40 barbecues going on the fields, considerably more concentrated.”

Cllr Demirci said managing the busy park in hot weather was challenging and the council was aware of the disruption, but stressed it was a small minority behaving unacceptably.

She said: “Allowing barbecues continues to be reviewed on an annual basis, but there are no plans at present to restrict their use further.”

She said security told people to take their barbecues off the grass and handed out bricks to anyone without a stand.

“We call on our enforcement officers and the police when needed,” she added. “These measures have reduced the number of burn patches, but some barbecues are missed or their stands are not high enough to raise them off the grass fully. Whilst the burn marks may be considered unsightly, they cause no long term damage, and the grass does tend to recover quite quickly.”

The council is planning air quality tests for this year but said in 2014 the concentration of the toxic fumes PM2.5 and PM10 was below the health standard.