New cabinet councillor Sally Gimson is lifting the ban on barbecues in green spaces such as Waterlow Park
Published: 2 July, 2014
EXCLUSIVE by RICHARD OSLEY
A BAN on barbecues in Camden’s parks is to be lifted with the public allowed to cook smoky food in any of the borough’s council-owned green spaces, the New Journal can reveal.
The council has previously been cast as “killjoys” after upholding a firm rule against the cooking of food in parks for several years, citing the damage barbecues can do to grass and the risk of injury to people.
But new cabinet councillor Sally Gimson said this evening (Wednesday) it was time to “trust” the public and help make summer more fun.
She was speaking after the New Journal saw a letter she had written to the “friends” groups of Camden’s parks, alerting them to her decision.
The ban will be lifted at the start of the summer school holidays.
In her letter Cllr Gimson sought to reassure park users and offered to meet those with concerns.
The ban will remove the restriction from council-managed parks right across the borough, from Russell Square to Waterlow Park. It does not cover Hampstead Heath, which is run by the City of London, or Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill, which are under the control of the Royal Parks Agency.
“One of the things I’m particularly keen on is for those of our residents who don’t have gardens to be able to use and enjoy their local parks over the summer,” Cllr Gimson’s letter said. “Waterlow Park is in my ward and one of its founding principles was to create a garden for the gardenless.
“Many families live in small flats and cannot afford to go away for the summer holidays. I want them to be able to enjoy the same things those of us lucky enough to have gardens or to go on holiday can do – such as being able to barbecue.”
It is her first big policy call since being elevated to Camden’s council cabinet by the Labour group last month, a move which saw her take over a communities brief which includes the overseeing of parks and open spaces.
Cllr Gimson said that gas and disposable barbecues would still be ruled out, but portable ones, “which you can get for a tenner”, would now be permitted.
When the restriction was lifted in Islington, London Mayor Boris Johnson said he was against the move and would investigate the decision, before it was clarified that he did not have the power to intervene further.
Cllr Gimson added: “The reports from Islington have been overwhelmingly positive in places like Highbury Fields. It might be that some sites work better than others but it is a one-year trial to see how we get on.”