Fines possible for using disposable barbecues in Dorset

Dorset Council has voted to create a working party to look at measures to ban the use of disposable barbecues in fire risk areas, including introducing a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) which allows fixed penalty notices to be issued.

A PSPO is a legal measure used by councils to prevent antisocial behaviour and its power means that enforcement officers can issue fines if the order isn’t respected. The order can apply to any place the public has access to, so it can cover private land and not just council property.

Disposable barbecues left in piles of rubbish
Swanage Fire Station

Incidents of fire damage across Dorset

In the report presented at the Dorset Council cabinet meeting yesterday, 30th June 2020, it refers to a number of incidents of fire damage across Dorset as a result of the use of and/or disposal of barbecues and of people having bonfires close to dry wooded and heathland areas. This of course includes the recent devastating fire in Wareham Forest. The report says:

“Concern about these fires has resulted in questions being raised about the council’s role in helping to prevent incidents like this occurring. This report seeks approval for a group of Dorset Council officers, linking with the fire and rescue service and other key stakeholders to proceed with detailed work to look at the range of options to prohibit or control the use of barbecues and other sources that cause fire.

“This work will establish grounds and ensure legislative criteria can be met for each option, for example the introduction of a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) or other measure to prohibit or control the use of barbeques, outdoor cooking on gas or charcoal fuelled facilities and other forms of fire on designated land within Dorset.”

Barbecue on Studland beach
Swanage Fire Station

Fire crew had to extinguish 30 barbecues

Speaking at the meeting Councillor Rebecca Knox who represents Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service on the council said:

“It’s not just the Wareham Forest fire, but on just one night in Studland recently, a fire crew had to extinguish 30 barbecues, which reflects on the huge problem that we are facing.”

Councillor Knox also urged the council to start a consultation on introducing a PSPO as soon as possible because the consultation period is 12 weeks and she was concerned that if it took several more weeks for the working party to decide to consult on a PSPO, the summer would be over before it could be implemented.

Barbecue on Studland beach
Swanage Fire Station

“Pick up as much speed as possible on this issue”

Councillor Ray Bryan agreed with Councillor Knox and said:

“Let’s try and pick up as much speed as possible on this issue and get the consultation started as soon as we can. I thoroughly recommend the council to approve the recommendations in this report.”

In addition to setting up the working party, the report also recommended implementing an extensive publicity campaign over the summer, which may include signs at locations and a social media campaign.

No barbecues sign
Purbeck Police

For further information

Dorset Council report on disposable barbecues published 30th June 2020

Options for prohibiting the use of disposable barbecues

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