Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge Town Council is to ban bonfires on its allotments as part of a new environmental policy agreed this week.
Members of the council’s Policy and Finance Committee have proposed the ban after complaints from residents and allotment holders about the ‘problem’ of growing numbers of bonfires.
Tatiana Cant, Town Clerk, said: “Several residents have recently objected to the smoke and one allotment holder told us he was unable to harvest his strawberries because of a bonfire.”
Cllr Andy Brewer added: “I have spent time looking into this and think we should be more environmentally conscious. There are plenty of good recycling facilities in the area, so we don’t need bonfires. I’d be keen to adopt a policy of no bonfires.”
“As we are hoping to complete our new environmental policy, this could be the right time to ban them.”
But Cllr Martin Cox said he considers the proposal to be a “step too far” and he quipped: “Is it time to ban barbecues too – where does it stop?”
Cllr Brewer responded: “With barbecues, the charcoal burns hotter and you don’t get particulates in the air like bonfires.”
Cllr Cox suggested that bonfires should be banned only in the daytime on local allotments up to 6pm in a part-time ban, but there was no seconder to his proposal.
Responding to the suggestion, Cllr David Hoggarth said: “If we are going to do this, we should do it properly. Do we have the means to control who is burning what at certain times of the day? I think it’s all or nothing – I propose we do away with all bonfires.”
Cllr Mike Facey said the ban would initially only cover the Walrow allotments in Highbridge, which the Town Council owns and manages. “The Love Lane allotments are run by an Allotment Management (not linked to the Town Council) who have their own set of rules and regulations. This does include the lighting of bonfires, but only at strictly limited times.”
Councillors voted in favour of a ban on all bonfires at the council’s allotments – four councillors voted for the ban, one was against and one abstained. A final decision rests with the full Town Council at its meeting next month.
It is the latest in a series of new environmental policies introduced by the Town Council. The authority is a partner in the plastics-free coastline project and has recently banned the launch of balloons and sky lanterns from its properties, a policy that has also been adopted by Sedgemoor District Council.