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Is this the end for sausage sizzling on the Heath?

PUBLISHED: 12:38 14 August 2008 | UPDATED: 15:18 07 September 2010

By Tan Parsons HAMPSTEAD HEATH bosses have put a dampener on barbecue parties and have warned determined sausage sizzlers that they face a £200 fine if caught. They may have been a rare sight over recent weeks due to the rain, but the City of London Corpo

By Tan Parsons

HAMPSTEAD HEATH bosses have put a dampener on barbecue parties and have warned determined sausage sizzlers that they face a £200 fine if caught.

They may have been a rare sight over recent weeks due to the rain, but the City of London Corporation, which runs the Heath, now wants to outlaw barbecues altogether.

Heath bosses are urging visitors to bring picnics instead and anyone who breaks the rules will be fair game for the Heath rangers, who are stepping up their patrols in barbecue hotspots.

Burned patches of grass, litter and fire risks are the reasons given by the Corporation for the summer clampdown, but not all Heath users are happy with the new zero-tolerance approach.

"I think a £200 fine is extremely harsh," said Heath user Ian Walker, 27 from Camden Town.

"I like barbecues and I think what they've done here is over the top and insults people's intelligence and civic pride.

"They are basically saying to people of all ages and creeds - 'We don't trust you'.What they should do instead is have on-the-spot fines for littering. Barbecues don't really damage the grass and they're not a fire risk in a rainy country like this."

Highgate School pupil Simon Lack, 15, said: "It's pretty stupid - lots of people like having barbecues on the Heath. It's not a reasonable argument to say that a little bit of grass is being damaged when you are in 1,000 acres of grass."

Rahou Roy, 24, said: "It's a very bad thing. People should be allowed to do whatever they want on the Heath as long as it doesn't cause pollution."

Technically, barbecues have been banned on the Heath for years but bosses have never enforced the law. Hundreds of barbecue parties take place each year during summer weekends.

But now more than 20 new signs have gone up in prominent positions at the entry points, warning visitors barbecues are banned.

Bob Hall, chairman of the Hampstead Heath Management Committee, said: "Visitors need to be aware of the potentially serious damage a barbecue can cause to the Heath. On hot days, certain areas can resemble a chess board, chequered with scorch marks. They also create a terrible litter problem as many people leave them lying around rather than binning them.

"We hope that people will understand why we are taking a hard line on this and will work with us to help preserve the integrity of the Heath for everyone to enjoy."

In May last year Camden Council banned all residents from holding barbecues until they had taken a safety course, but later backed down from the killjoy approach.

tan.parsons@hamhigh.co.uk


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