Picnic family rapped over windbreak
Published 28/07/2010 | 15:02
A council has apologised for overzealous workers who ordered a family to remove their windbreak because it was an "illegal semi-permanent structure".
Jon Hacker, his wife Claire and daughters Sophie, 11, and Emily, eight, were sheltering behind the £12.99 plastic sheet when council officers told them they were breaking the law.
They arrived in a 4x4 and ordered the family to take the windbreak down, saying it was a semi-permanent structure in breach of bylaws protecting Clifton Downs, Bristol.
IT worker Mr Hacker, 41, said it was too windy to carry on their picnic which ruined the day for their daughter's friend Erika, 11, visiting from Spain.
They ended up having to finish the picnic in their garden.
Article 5 of the bylaws, headed 'erection of structures', says: "No person shall on the Downs, without the consent of the Downs Committee, erect any post, rail, fence, pole, tent, booth, stand, building or other structure."
Anyone contravening the bylaws, which also ban driving cars on the grass and lighting fires, could get a fixed penalty or a maximum fine of £500 if the case goes to court.
A spokesman for Bristol City Council apologised and admitted employees had been "overzealous".
A spokesman said: "We apologise to the gentleman and his family. Clearly there needs to be discretion when enforcing the bylaws of the Downs.
"They are designed to prevent tents and gazebos being put up on the Downs, but there should be flexibility to allow families to use windbreaks - we shall instruct our enforcement officers and rangers on this basis."