Meadows to get more fire-proof sites for BBQs

The slabs have helped reduce scorch damage to grass in the Meadows
The slabs have helped reduce scorch damage to grass in the Meadows
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It may not quite be barbecue weather yet.

But preparations are well under way to ensure that this summer, the sausages will sizzle without singeing the grass.

A pilot scheme which saw concrete slabs introduced on to the Meadows to try to prevent damage caused by disposable barbecues is to be extended after proving to be a success.

The scheme could also now be introduced in other parks across the city.

Meadows/Morningside councillor Paul Godzik said: “I think we need to do something to minimise the damage to the grass on the Meadows, so I welcome the extension of this scheme.

“I know there are multiple views on this but I believe an outright ban would not work because of concerns that the shortage of resources would reduce the chance of it being a success, but there is a need for the council to put some resource into enforcement.

“My view has always been that, at the Meadows, a lot of people use it as a back garden and the vast majority try to use it with respect, but some do not and that does lead to damage.”

The city council, which manages the Meadows, launched its barbecue slabs pilot in April 2010 following concerns about the high level of barbecue use and the impact on the grass.

Officials said at the time that the scorched grass was “unsightly” and did “little to enhance our open and green space” but ruled that it would be difficult to force people to stop using barbecues within such a large space.

A total of 20 small slabbed sites were introduced initially at various locations around the park, while signs were put up to guide people to sites.

The local “Friends” groups has also helped to distribute a leaflet informing people of the correct places to use a barbecue.

In the early days of the pilot, use of the slabs was said to be very low. However, officials say that, as the sites have become known, use has improved and instances of grass being burnt have reduced.

A survey has found that 12 per cent of people supported an outright ban, while 85 per cent welcomed more facilities and better information to help barbecues be used more safely.

Sarah Burns, acting neighbourhood manager for the south of the city, said: “It is acknowledged that barbecuing in the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links during warm sunny periods is a very popular activity and the consultation shows that there is strong support for allowing it to continue.

“However, irresponsible barbecuing causes damage to the grass and other concerns have been raised by some members of the local community.

“To help to address the impact, it is proposed that the number of sites is increased and the signage is improved to help increase awareness.”