Councillors vote in voluntary smoking ban for Finsbury Circus Gardens

The City of London is planning a fresh look for its oldest park once work on Crossrail is completed.

There will be a voluntary ban on smoking in the oldest public park in London when it reopens after Crossrail works.

Smokers will be encouraged not to light up in Finsbury Circus Gardens after councillors voted to support the policy.

The garden was first laid out in 1606, some 40 years after tobacco first reached England. Now, the City of London Corporation, which owns the circus, has voted to bring in a voluntary ban in the circular park which is the largest green space in the Square Mile.

It aims to “denormalise smoking” and cut down on cigarette packets and ends littering the park.

It will put up signs to ask people not to smoke, but there will not be any enforcement officers to force them to stop.

Finsbury Circus Gardens is due to be handed back to the City when Crossrail construction ends.

The park, near Moorgate, will then be closed completely while a new garden is created before reopening in 2020.

Farringdon Within councillor Thomas Anderson said he had reservations, and did not think the park was an appropriate location for the pilot.

“I think it will create confusion about whether or not people are allowed to smoke there.”

The health and wellbeing board’s deputy chair, Marianne Fredericks, who is a former smoker, said it can be “just like walking through a smoke tunnel” in some areas.

She said seeing other people smoking sends a “subliminal message about smoking” to young people.

She added: “I think it’s very important that we send out a message that smoking kills.”

However, Councillor Anderson said: “As a non smoker I don’t think we should send a message that people don’t smoke in parks.”

In 2014, the Corporation agreed on a trial ban on smoking in four children’s play areas in the Square Mile.

However, the following year it rejected imposing a blanket ban on smoking in the City’s green spaces.

The voluntary ban comes after Bristol brought in similar measures in Millennium and Anchor Squares.The health and wellbeing committee voted to bring in the voluntary ban at their meeting on 21 September.