A FORMER Poole mayor says it was "disappointing" to hear a council member call for a ban on beach barbecues.

Xena Dion who served as a councillor with the Borough of Poole, as the town's mayor and as cabinet members for environment, lost her fight to be elected onto BCP Council in 2019.

In a letter to the Daily Echo the ex-mayor said: "Bans in areas where fires of any kind seriously threaten swathes of valuable heath land and forests make sense, but our beaches are different and should be managed appropriately and effectively.

"Firstly, banning an activity does not make it go away. People will have barbecues and will continue to buy disposable ones.

"If they cannot use them on the beachfront they will take them to less appropriate places such as into the Chines, Whitley Bay and Evening Hill which are already ridden with scorched squares of grass and discarded coals and are a fire risk.

"Secondly, unless the proposed ban is enforced it adds to the disdain and disregard already shown by so many people towards existing laws and bylaws."

Xena says that instead of looking to ban things, including visitors to the town's beaches, BCP Council should be able to manage situations better.

And she pointed to the National Trust-run Studland Beach where there are designated areas for barbecues, along with safe facilities for their disposal and frequent signage directing people to them.

Xena said: "When the weather is good and we know people will be flocking to our beaches we should see adequate toilet facilities, even if it means using temporary portable toilets and we should see frequent emptying of bins to, at least, help alleviate the problem of litter.

"In summary, don't 'ban' when you can't enforce, but 'manage'."

Last week the Conservative shadow cabinet member for crime May Haines has called on BCP Council to follow the lead taken in the New Forest and make the use of disposable barbecues “illegal” on beaches across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.

She said issues linked to their use, including children suffering burns and bin fires, meant “urgent action” was required.

Barbecues can only be used on the conurbation’s beaches after 6pm under existing rules and no open fires are allowed.

But recent incidents, including the May fire at Wareham Forest which took almost two weeks to extinguish, have led to increased calls for their use to be banned.

These concerns have prompted bans by the New Forest National Park Authority and Dorset Council is consulting on a ban.