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Bishop's Stortford Town Council confirms bonfire ban at allotments

Bishop's Stortford Town Council has confirmed a ban on bonfires at its 10 allotment sites despite calls for a rethink.

Roy Pettitt, site agent for the council's Hallingbury Road West site, argued the prohibition decision made in March was not proportionate. Councillors on the environment and public amenities committee considered his argument at their latest meeting.

The council's 10 allotment sites offer a total of 630 plots: 65 at Barrells Down Road, 43 at Cricketfield Lane, 7 at Elm Road, 53 at The Firs, 66 at Hallingbury Road East, 125 at Hallingbury Road West, 115 at Haymeads Lane, 6 at London Road, 65 at Thornbera Road and 85 at Ward Crescent.

The council's ban replaced a convention that bonfires should be lit only for a few days around Guy Fawkes' Night on November 5 and followed years of complaints about smoke and pollution.

The council's chief executive, James Paker, told committee members they had two options: reimpose that previous rule or confirm the ban.

He warned that officers regarded reinstatement as impractical as experience showed tenants did not respect instructions to consider wind direction when lighting fires.

Cllr George Cutting accepted there were strong views on both sides but argued composting rather than burning was the most environmentally friendly way to dispose of allotment waste. "We appreciate that people will be disappointed with this, but the council has made the decision to ban bonfires and I still think this is the right thing to do," he said.

Cllr Jill Sortwell said the council had a duty of care to be a good neighbour to householders affected by smoke and the Royal Horticultural Society was clear that composting was preferable. Infected green waste should be removed from site.

Cllr Terence Beckett said that other councils had already imposed bans and added: "We're not flying a lone flag here."

As the committee voted to confirm its decision, chairman Cllr Diane Hollebon said: "We need to lead from the front."

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