100 signatures reached
To: Mayor Philip Glanville and the Cabinet of Hackney Borough Council
Ban BBQs on London Fields
Stop encouraging BBQs and bonfires on London Fields Park and enforce park bylaws.
Why is this important?
Barbecues on London Fields have been trialled for several years and were approved again for 2017. Barbecues are banned in most of the parks of London on safety and health grounds. It is the only park in Hackney where the Council overlooks their own strict bye-laws banning fires in parks.
As a result, London Fields is now popularised through social media to the point that on a sunny summer weekend it attracts thousands of visitors and tourists from all across London and beyond. The smoke from BBQs and fires makes it impossible for residents neighbouring the park to open their windows on hot summer days. Depending on the wind, dense smoke carries across the park in different directions - into houses and flats, up to the Lido or across the children's playgrounds. The smoke is unpleasant and represents a significant pollution risk, especially for people with breathing difficulties. A highly toxic particle known as PM2.5 is released into the atmosphere when burning barbecues. There is no safe level of PM2.5 and it can:
* suppress lung function in children
* cause heart disease and strokes
* cause and aggravate asthma
* cause lung cancer
[Source: "Every Breath We Take", RCP / RCPCH pub. Feb 2016]
In the summer of 2105 an investigation by King's College London pollution team showed toxic PM2.5 air pollution levels during barbecues on Highbury Fields, Islington, to be up to 3 times the kerbside levels at one of London's busiest roads in Marylebone.
In 2013 a study involving 312,944 people in nine European countries revealed there was no safe level of particulates. Hackney Council has an air pollution plan (http://www.hackney.gov.uk/air-pollution) and an air quality action plan (http://www.hackney.gov.uk/air-quality-action-plan) - and does nothing to stop toxic smoke over children's play areas in the Fields.
Anti-social behaviour is an ever-present worry with small groups staying in the park overnight. Mounds of litter are left behind, overflowing the many extra bins provided. On Sundays and Mondays, parts of the park are unusable by local residents until clear-ups are undertaken, bins are left on fire and discarded food attracts rats.
Every summer this costs Hackney council-tax payers a potential £80,000 or more in extra bins, refuse disposal, signs, security and damage repairs to the park. According to an FOI request, £57,000 alone is paying for a security firm to watch just the BBQ area all summer long*. To put this in perspective - if the park charged 800 visitors every week for the whole summer £5 to BBQ (15 weekends) it would only raise £60,000 - and not cover those costs. And the security is there only on weekends - and BBQs are lit every day during the summer.
London Fields is a small park. It just cannot sustain this pressure on such a tiny piece of land. It is time to call an end to a failed experiment and treat London Fields like any other Hackney Park – a green space which visitors should respect and use with care. Local people should not have to dread sunny weekends.
And what if there were no barbecues? Well, they are no real loss to anyone; *picnics* are rather similar in nature but much less annoying and polluting - and they are fun, cheaper, eco-friendly, no smoke, no fire, less mess (except perhaps for egg sandwiches) and they can be eaten anywhere, in any park, in any neighbourhood, not just a tiny, barren corner of London Fields.
So please sign this petition and share with your friends on Facebook, Twitter and email - and in the street - to ask the Mayor and Hackney Council to end this abuse of the Fields.
* Hackney Council claim the security is for the whole of the park; this is not what the security staff say - or do.
How it will be delivered