Health and safety chiefs ban summer barbeques

Evening Standard (UK) 03 May 07

Health and safety chiefs have banned barbecues at community festivals in case people get killed or injured. Camden council has ruled professional caterers must be hired to run coal barbecues at this summer’s events even though hard-up community groups cannot afford the expense. Safety chiefs also say those operating gas cookers will have to do a course to gain health and safety qualifications.

Labour councillor Pat Callaghan, who helps with the Primrose Hill festival in Chalcot Square every June, said: “This is really over the top. To back professional caterers over local people almost defeats the purpose of having a festival. The area is supervised and there have been no accidents. It’s madness.”

Volunteer Keith Bird, who has run the Primrose Hill barbecue for 25 years, is furious at the loss of his chef role. He said: “It is so patronising to have to go on one of these courses. I am not an irresponsible or stupid person.” The council said public safety was at risk from the stalls and barbecue users damaged grass by emptying coal on the ground.