Litter bins have nearly been set on fire when people tipped burning hot coals into them after having a barbecue, a council has said.

Watford Borough Council says Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue has had to respond to 27 fire-related incidents over the past year where fire hazards were present in the town's parks after people decided to light a fire or have a barbecue.

Lighting fires or having barbecues is banned in any park across Watford.

The council said that people who have barbecues in parks nearly always leave behind scorched patches of burned grass that take months to recover, while there is a risk of fire getting out of control when ground conditions are dry.

In some cases people have tipped burning hot coals into litter bins and have nearly set them on fire, the council said.

It said that these types of incidents cause "nuisance" smoke for other park users and fire hazards, with some having to be dealt with by the fire service.

Now, the council is urging people to remember that they cannot light fires or have barbecues in any of the town’s parks.

Environment spokesman Cllr Tim Williams said: “Abuse of our parks is never acceptable and there is no excuse for it. We are working closely with Veolia, Herts Police and Herts Fire Service on these issues. It is disappointing that these requests are necessary, but I am grateful to the vast majority of people who visit our parks and behave responsibly.

“Our local parks and open spaces have been a lifeline for many people over the past few months and we will do whatever it takes to protect them.”

The council is urging residents to remain vigilant and call 999 if they see any smouldering. It has also provided the following tips:

• Don’t use disposable barbecues at all in public spaces, especially during prolonged hot weather

• Dispose of smoking materials such as cigarettes and matches safely

• Clear away bottles, glasses and any broken glass to avoid them magnifying the sun and starting a fire

• Explain to children the dangers of playing with and lighting fires