Country park rangers saved

FIGHTING TO SAVE BESTWOOD COUNTRY PARK -- from left, volunteers Mick Sendall and Bob Gow, Friends Of Country Park officials Leonie Williams, Roger Williams and Sean Tobin, and site manager Alex Morley -- DISPIC 10-3491-1,
FIGHTING TO SAVE BESTWOOD COUNTRY PARK -- from left, volunteers Mick Sendall and Bob Gow, Friends Of Country Park officials Leonie Williams, Roger Williams and Sean Tobin, and site manager Alex Morley -- DISPIC 10-3491-1,
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UNDER-threat Bestwood Country Park has been given an encouraging boost — thanks to a surprise U-turn decision by Notts County Council to retain a team of park rangers.

Fears were expressed for the future of the park after it was announced in a Dispatch exclusive that the council was planning to axe the jobs of all the rangers working there.

Critics voiced concern that the lack of a ranger presence would give a free rein for rubbish dumping, burnt-out cars and off-road motorcycling on the park, with no check on anti-social behaviour.

But the council has decided to reduce the amount of its cutbacks on the country-park service from 47% to 34%. The service will, therefore, receive £200,000 more than was previously envisaged, which will mean some rangers’ jobs being saved.

The council’s Cabinet member for culture and community, Coun John Cottee (Con), said: “We are passionate about our country parks and want to make sure they are managed for everyone to enjoy and for future generations.

“The revised budget will mean we can retain a number of our highly-skilled park rangers, who do a magnificent job managing our beautiful country parks.

“This review of our proposed savings demonstrates that we are listening to all our service users and value their views.”

Coun Cottee said the retained park rangers would continue to carry out specialist conservation and public-protection work, while a developed voluntary contribution would help with routine but essential work such as litter picking.

The secretary of the Friends of Bestwood Country Park, Roger Williams, welcomed the decision and thanked about 600 people who had supported a petition campaign against the county council’s original plans.

He said the new decision would do much to safeguard sensitive park habitats, promote strong partnerships with user groups and volunteers, support educational activity and help park users feel safe.

Mr Williams said: “We will be looking for new ways to work together in what are very tough, challenging times for the county council.

“It is often easy to be cynical about consultation processes. The council is to be congratulated on the flexible approach it has taken.

“We want a ranger-led team, and the only devil is in the detail of how this can take effect.”