SHOCKING pictures highlight a dramatic stand-off between security marshals and a gang determined to set an illegal barbecue at a premier Oldham beauty spot.

The incident at Dovestone happened just 48 hours before Oldham and Tameside councils announced plans to launch a consultation banning barbecues and fires on moors.

Their move comes in a bid to protect huge swathes of land following devastating fires which destroyed wildlife and hundreds of acres of valuable moorland habitat.

The councils are seeking to introduce two Public Space Protection Orders(PSPO) which would lead to on the spot £90 fixed penalty fines for offenders and ban barbecues,

fireworks and sky lanterns from the areas.

Failure to pay the fine could lead to prosecution through the courts.

But last weekend, two Dovestone marshals from the Protec Security Group, faced a head on confrontation with 15-strong gang carrying a large drum barbecue from Dovestone car park.

Elvin Lucas, Protec’s owner, said: “We stopped the group who said they could not see any signs saying barbecues were banned. We were joined by members of Dovestone Sailing club and public who explained the situation.

“But the group walked on and set up the barbecue near the memorial gardens. We called police and the fire brigade arrived.

“When the group saw the firefighters, they ran off up a hillside, found another site, and lit the barbecue. But the fire brigade did a brilliant job and intervened again.

“However, after the firefighters left, the group relit and barbecue and the following morning we visited the scene and cleared the mess with help from sailing club members.

“It’s all very frustrating,” he added. “There are signs warning of the barbeques ban and we are on hand at weekends to explain the reasons why.”

Cllr Arooj Shah, deputy leader of Oldham Council and cabinet member for social justice and communities, said: “The moors above Saddleworth are home to some of the most beautiful countryside in England.

“Unfortunately, over the last few years several huge fires, some which have been started by discarded barbecues, have put lives and property at risk.

“We believe animals have died in the fires and it will take years for the moorland to return to normal.

“Fighting the fires also tied up resources that could have been needed elsewhere, in the process costing hundreds of thousands of pounds. That can’t go on.

“The proposed PSPOs are very simple – they would be in place to stop people taking barbecues onto the moors

“We aren’t trying to be killjoys – we want people to go out and enjoy our countryside and just to act responsibly. If they don’t then they could face action.”

Cllr Allison Gwynne, Tameside Council’s executive member for neighbourhoods, said: “Although the 2018 fires were the worst in living memory, moorland fires are not uncommon.

“They take place every year, and there’s strong evidence to suggest that the vast majority are the result of thoughtless behaviour.

“I believe the PSPOs, used alongside education and information, would help us to significantly reduce the number of fires. They not only cause large-scale destruction but also needlessly endanger people and put a strain on already stretched services.

“Last year’s fires could so easily have resulted in tragedy. It was only the tireless efforts of so many firefighters, soldiers and others - as well as a hugely impressive community response - that ensured no lives were lost.”

Oldham and Tameside Councils formal consultation on the proposed PSPOs will run from Monday (July 8) to Monday, August 5 with councillors, stakeholders and residents able to submit comments on the proposals.

Copies of the proposed PSPOs and Notices of Proposed Orders for Oldham and Tameside will be found on the and websites from July 8.

Details of how to submit a comment are included in the Notices of Proposed Orders and it is important that any person wanting to submit a comment follows the instructions on how to do this.