Portsmouth City Council admits defeat in Southsea Common barbecue row

SMOKING ''People on Southsea Common enjoying a barbecue.   Picture: Malcolm Wells
SMOKING ''People on Southsea Common enjoying a barbecue. Picture: Malcolm Wells
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BARBECUERS are free to carry on cooking on Southsea Common after Portsmouth City Council said it was powerless to stop them.

Council leaders had hoped government legislation due to be passed earlier this year would allow it to create a bylaw to issue fines of up to £80.

But a delay in it becoming law means the city council cannot prosecute anyone caught flouting the barbecue-free zones.

Southsea seafront manager David Evans said: ‘We understand people will want to enjoy barbecues on the seafront, but we equally appreciate some residents and visitors do have concerns.

‘That’s why we are trying to encourage people to have barbecues in zones where there are special red-top bins provided and water points.

‘The government is proposing legislation that would make it easier for councils to introduce bylaws, and we’ll investigate whether it is appropriate for the seafront to have barbecue zones, which we would have the power to enforce.

‘Some cities restrict barbecues completely in public areas, but we don’t want to take this approach.

‘That’s why it’s fairer for everyone if you do want to have a barbecue to be courteous and have it in a designated area.’

The council first introduced barbecue and barbecue-free zones in March 2009.

They are allowed in a central stretch between Clarence Parade and Clarence Esplanade, a small space between The Blue Reef Aquarium and the D-Day Museum, an area to the east of Southsea’s skate park and another near Southsea Castle.

A Facebook group set up in favour of having barbecues on the common has been backed by more than 4,000 people.

Group creator Paul Nelson said: ‘I’ve enjoyed barbecues there for the past decade and have never seen one iota of trouble.

‘Of course, there will always be a tiny minority who will try and ruin it for all, but should we let them? Most people collect their rubbish as they pack-up to leave and hand it to the helpful and efficient council staff who patrol the area.’