BARBECUES in the city’s public parks are being given the green light amid claims that the cost of policing them would be too great.
Heritage group the Friends of the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links had hoped that the council would ban barbecues, after repeatedly voicing concerns about the damage they cause to the grass.
But at a recent meeting of the South Central Neighbourhood Partnership, members were informed by the council that enforcing a ban would mean incurring extra costs in order to fund the additional manpower needed to police the area during hot weather.
And they were told extra money would also have to be spent training wardens to carry and operate fire extinguishers.
Instead, the council has approved new park management rules allowing barbecues in the city’s parks and green spaces.
Heather Goodacre of the Friends of the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links said: “The council claims it would be unaffordable to draft in extra manpower to enforce a ban but a few instant fines and you would soon stop this. It should be fairly simple.”
The new rules state that barbecuing is allowed on designated sites, where they are provided, but prohibited where they are likely to burn or scorch the ground or disturb other park users and neighbouring residents.
On sunny days it is estimated that up to 10,000 people can gather on the Meadows and Links, and it was suggested a minimum of 16 environmental wardens working in pairs would have been needed to enforce any ban.
Plans have also been announced to install more barbecue slabs in a bid to cut down on the amount of grass areas being burnt.
Fellow Friends of the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links member Audrey Simon believes that this will have no impact.
She said: “The council can fund the manpower to target areas regarding dog fouling, fly posting and littering why not this also?
“In the short term it might cost but in the long term it would solve the problem.”
Further measures to tackle the problem of the litter created by park users with barbecues include the installation of large underground silo bins such as those found within Princes Street Gardens.
City environment convenor Cllr Lesley Hinds said: “The new park management rules approved by council in January promote the responsible use of the city’s parks and aim to balance the needs of all park users. The new rules state that barbecuing is allowed on designated sites (where they are provided) but prohibited where they are likely to burn or scorch the ground or disturb other park users and neighbouring residents.
“Within the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links we’re looking at identifying a small number of designated area where barbecuing is allowed and improving the facilities at these sites. We’ll continue to work with both our partners and the local community to address any concerns.”
The issue is to be debated at the upcoming meeting of the Friends of the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links within Barclay Viewforth Church on March 18 at 7.30pm.