Petition to save jobs of park staff

09-0223-3'The Winding Engine House at Bestwood Country Park
09-0223-3'The Winding Engine House at Bestwood Country Park

A PETITION campaign aimed at saving the jobs of all Bestwood Country Park rangers has hit the streets.

Notts County Council has announced shock, cost-cutting plans to sack the rangers, which has sparked fears about the future of the popular park.

Now members of Bestwood Parish Council are so concerned about how seriously the visitor-attraction would be hit by Notts County Council’s cost-cutting plans that they are taking the petition from door to door in the village.

The country park site manager, Alex Morley, and the secretary of the Friends of Bestwood Country Park group, Roger Williams, attended a meeting of the parish council.

Mr Williams said the group was worried that the loss of the rangers would mean an increase in anti-social behaviour and users of the park feeling less safe, with a likelihood of fly-tippng and burnt-out cars.

He added the proposals would pose a risk to sensitive wildlife-habitats in the park. There would be a loss of expertise in management of the site and a reduction in voluntary effort and educational work there.

Mr Morley told the meeting that the county council was planning to replace the rangers with a small team of wardens. “They would be less qualified than the rangers and be based at Rufford Abbey so, at best, there would be a limited on-site presence at the country park,” he added.

He said he understood that someone would still be looking after the winding-engine house of the former Bestwood Colliery, which is an iconic feature of the country park. The building has received a lot of investment to make it a top tourist attraction.

Mr Williams said his group was calling for a permanent ranger-led team at the country park and he insisted that if this was set up, the county council could still make the savings it said were needed.

Parish council chairman, Coun Denis Beeston, claimed that the country park was “the only thing left to the village since the days of the National Coal Board.”

He added: “I go back to the very beginning of the country park. I was chairman when there was a joint committee from Gedling Borough Council and the county council and I was secretary of the volunteers. We met at the Bestwood Hotel every Friday night, and a lot of the volunteers have passed away over the years, God bless them.”