Battle Still on After Cuts To Park Ranger Teams Confirmed

Cabinet agree to increase numbers by two

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Ealing Council's cabinet has confirmed that the Park Ranger and Envirocrime teams will be cut - but by two less than previously planned.

Opposition groups on the Council - supported by a number of residents’ groups - forced the original decision to be called - in, and on Tuesday the cabinet inched back on its proposals to reduce the ranger team from 23 to 9 and have now put 2 posts back.

Southfield Liberal Democrat Councillor Gary Malcolm says a backtrack is not enough.

"Labour wanted to cut both teams by 50%. After Liberal Democrat action they said they are to only keep an extra two Park Rangers. LibDems say that where cuts are needed, retaining front-line services should take priority.

''The Park Rangers & enviro-crime officers, whose job it is to enforce fly-tipping and other environmental crimes, are needed to ensure our parks are well looked after and are safe."

The Conservatives say this a key service for residents and have tabled a motion for the next council meeting on February 1st.

It reads:

'' This Council recognises the central role that parks and open spaces play in urban life and the crucial and enabling role of the dedicated team of Park Rangers in making our parks safe, clean, enjoyable and welcoming.

''Our Envirocrime Officers have an equally valuable role in keeping our streets clear of the effects of fly-tipping and taking action against the perpetrators. This Council therefore deplores the proposed cuts to both the Ranger and Envirocrime Teams, which will see the number of Rangers reduced from 20 to 4 and the Envirocrime Team reduced by 50%.

''This Council welcomes and backs the strong public opposition to these proposed cuts as evidenced by the number of community organisations who spoke against the proposal at the 23rd December 2010 Overview and Scrutiny meeting, including the Friends of Blondin Park, Hanwell Community Forum, Brent River and Canal Society, Ealing Friends of the Earth and West Ealing Neighbours.

''This Council therefore urges the Cabinet to rethink their decision to savagely cut these essential front line service.''

Councillor Kalmaljit Dhindsa, Cabinet member responsible for Customer and Community Services says:

'' “Ealing Council is currently looking to find a massive 30% in budget savings following cuts in our grant from the Tory-led government, and, unfortunately, this means that we are being forced to make some very difficult choices. However it is clear where the blame lies for these choices and that is with the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties for their government's reckless economic gamble.

“Our park rangers team provides a valuable service and I am very pleased that we have been able to find two additional posts to strengthen the new team as a result of the administration working closely with officers to ensure frontline services are protected as much as possible. As well as restructuring our park rangers team, we are also strengthening our park maintenance contracts to ensure that Ealing’s green spaces stay safe and clean.”

27th January 2011