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Decision made on plans to ban balloons and floating lanterns in Ipswich parks

PUBLISHED: 06:22 07 August 2019 | UPDATED: 06:22 07 August 2019

Lanterns look set to be banned from Ipswich parks 

Picture: James Bass

Lanterns look set to be banned from Ipswich parks Picture: James Bass

(C) Archant Norfolk 2013

Proposals to ban the use of floating lanterns and balloons in Ipswich parks have been given the green light.

Councillor Phil Smart said it was about Ipswich Borough Council setting an example. Picture: IBCCouncillor Phil Smart said it was about Ipswich Borough Council setting an example. Picture: IBC

Ipswich Borough Council's executive committee agreed the policy at its meeting on Tuesday night, and will become enshrined in park bylaws.

A report prepared for the meeting said that balloons and sky lanterns posed a hazard to the environment because they could be ingested by animals, creatures could become entangled in them, they littered the area and in the case of lanterns could cause fires.

Councillor Phil Smart, Labour portfolio holder for environment, said: "It's a policy to protect wildlife and the environment, including the risk of crop fires.

"It does only apply to Ipswich Borough Council land because that's all we can enforce, but we hope this will set an example to others.

Ipswich Conservative group leader Ian Fisher questioned if it was just banning something that was not a problem. Picture: IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCILIpswich Conservative group leader Ian Fisher questioned if it was just banning something that was not a problem. Picture: IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCIL

"There may be some people who think this is an attempt to curb having fun but I would argue the greatest gift you can give someone is the gift of education."

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According to the council's report, it has in the past turned down requests to release Chinese lanterns or balloons from its parks, but that stance is not enshrined in any formal policy and is understood to have been requests from larger organised events.

It means that to date, if anyone in the park attempted to use a balloon or lantern the council would not have any basis on which to stop it.

The new policy means that park staff could curb people attempting to use them in the council's parks in the future.

Mr Smart added: "Nobody has challenged that decision [to date] but clearly this policy gives us a more powerful position in the future, and if we put in place any policy it's something we can enforce."

However, Ian Fisher, Conservative group leader at the council questioned why there was a need to ban something that was not a problem the council had seen.

"My main concern is if we create a law we have to enforce it, and if someone wants to release a balloon or lantern we will not be able to enforce it.

"Is this just banning something we don't have as a problem?"

The new policy will formally be drawn up and be included in the park bylaws set to be reviewed this autumn.

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