Mass picnic to protest against ban on sitting on the lawns

Visitors of the Augarten park in Vienna were driven off green areas as the Federal Parks and Gardens Authority have started to control the observance of park rules. This has caused a debate.

A spontaneous “protest picnic” was organised yesterday (Thurs) at 5 p.m. Park visitors had complained in social media networks that they had been driven off green areas by security guards. Apparently, they were threatened with fines and ID controls.

People who wanted to bring their children on bike to the kindergarten in Augarten were told to get off their bikes and to push it.

The city of Vienna is not in charge of all green and recreation areas. Several parks like Burggarten, Heldenplatz or Augarten belong to the Federation. The authority of Burghauptmannschaft, which is under the control of the ministry of economics, represents the owner.

The responsible person of Burghauptmannschaft, Reinhold Sahl, rejects the allegations. There are neither fines nor threats, he assured. Two park guards have been employed in order to make park visitors aware of the rules and to sensitize them.

Mr Sahl said that they had to react upon several complaints due to bikes or dogs that run around in the lawns. The park regulations in Augarten state clearly what and where something is allowed or forbidden.

The Green Party of Vienna does not agree with this policy: “The times when the authoritarian maxim “Keep off the grass” prevailed in public parks should be over”, MP Klaus Werner-Lobo argued.

He demands that the Burghauptmannschaft reforms the park regulations in terms of the public use instead of rushing private securities on families.