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CPRE Bedfordshire statement: Bedford Borough Council to cut Park Rangers.

Thursday, 18 January 2018 11:51

Mowsbury Hillfort Mowsbury Hillfort

 

CPRE Bedfordshire is extremely concerned with Bedford Borough Council’s (BBC) plans to make further cuts to Park Rangers who ensure the expert management and operation of our Parks and Green Spaces throughout the Borough.

The plan is to reduce the number of Park Rangers and to downgrade the status of the highly skilled and knowledgeable staff remaining from “Rangers” to what are effectively “gardeners”.


A CPRE spokesperson said:


“One of CPRE Bedfordshire’s main objectives is the protection of our green spaces in both urban and rural areas.


These plans will lead to a further substantial reduction of specialist expertise in the Borough on top of cuts to “outdoor” staff about a year ago.


Currently the Rangers are responsible for nearly 1000 acres of Borough land in urban and rural areas – not just Green Infrastructure such as Mowsbury Park, Mowsbury Hill Fort, Priory Park and Harrold Country Park but also a wide variety of smaller green spaces across the Borough - hugely important for biodiversity with a wide range of wildflowers and wildlife to manage.


These areas need expert management.


Without the expertise of the Rangers our green spaces will deteriorate and Bedford Borough residents will be considerably worse off for it.”


It is this expertise that led to Harrold Country Park winning the top “CPRE Mark” award in CPRE Bedfordshire’s prestigious Living Countryside Awards in 2011 and a further award in 2016.


These awards were given for the excellent work of the Park Rangers managing and developing the Park, which is highly regarded by the public.


Mowsbury Hill Fort on the edge of Brickhill also won a top CPRE Mark Award at our last Living Countryside Awards in 2016.


The Rangers also have the very important task of managing and supporting the very large number of volunteers who work tirelessly to help maintain and improve these important green spaces at no cost to the Borough Council. The volunteers themselves are extremely disturbed by the BBC plans.


The CPRE spokesperson went on to say:


“Bedford Borough Council’s Local Plan 2035 currently under development forecasts huge growth in housing and population.


As part of this the Council has promised increasing Green Infrastructure to support the level of growth.


This plan to reduce the very staff that will both develop and deliver the increased Green Infrastructure, gives us no confidence whatsoever in these future plans.


It has been shown repeatedly, that Green Infrastructure has a very positive impact on people’s health and well-being and so funds spent in this area will lead to a reduction in higher levels of spending elsewhere e.g. social care, mental health etc. etc.


Whilst we fully understand the financial pressures that Local Authorities are under we urge Bedford Borough Council to reconsider this proposal.”

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