The laws you need to know before you try to have a barbecue in a Leeds park
Warm weather and barbecuing go hand in hand, and with the UK currently baking in the midst of a summer heatwave, many people will be making up the most of the sunny spell by firing up the grill.
But while a feast of chargrilled meats might provide the tastiest of treats, having a barbecue in public could land you in trouble with the law.
Is it legal to have a barbecue in a public park?
The Government has strict rules in relation to the use of common land, and town and public greens.
Some areas of common land, which includes spaces owned by the local council, privately or by the National Trust, have different rights, with some not allowing the lighting of fire or having a barbecue.
Here in Leeds, there is a bylaw preventing barbecues and fires from being lit in the city's parks, unless it is in a designated area for barbecuing.
The law states:
"11 (1) No person shall light a fire or place, throw or drop a lighted match or any other thing likely to cause a fire.
Byelaw 11(1) shall not apply to:
(a) the lighting of a fire at any event for which the Council has given permission that fires may be lit; or
(b) the lighting or use, in such a manner as to safeguard against damage or danger to any person, of a properly constructed barbecue, in a designated area for barbecues."
If you are unsure if an area is designated as a safe barbecue zone, it is advisable to contact the local council for information.
A fire safety hazard
The restrictions around barbecuing in a public space are enforced due to concerns about fire safety hazards.
Yesterday, North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service issued a warning about grass fires, following several incidents over the past week.
They issued the following advice for barbecuing in public:
"We've attended several grass fires over the last week, some of which have been caused by carelessly discarded bbqs or campfires.
"If you're planning to visit the Moors or the Dales during this hot weather please take care to dispose of items carefully.
"Don't leave glass bottles lying on the ground as sunlight shining through them can cause fires, only light fires or bbqs in safe, designated areas and don't throw cigarettes out of car windows or on to the ground.
"If you spot a grass or moor fire, please call 999 and ask for the fire service."
Barbecue safety advice
If you are planning a barbecue at home, or in a designated barbecue area, the UK Fire Service issue the following advice to ensure a safety and avoid damage to property:
- Make sure your barbecue is in good working order
- Ensure the barbecue is on a flat site, well away from a shed, trees or shrubs
- Keep children, garden games and pets well away from the cooking area
- Never leave the barbecue unattended
- Keep a bucket of water or sand nearby for emergencies
- Ensure the barbecue is cool before attempting to move it
And if using a disposable barbecue outdoors:
- Dispose of smoking materials properly and make sure they are completely extinguished
- Don’t leave camp fires or barbecues unattended and extinguish them properly after use
- Clear away bottles, glasses and any broken glass to prevent them magnifying the sun’s rays and starting a fire
- Explain to children the dangers of playing with lighted fires
- If a fire breaks out, call the fire and rescue service immediately on 999 or 112