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PARKS TRIMMED TOO FAR

01-02-2010

Park users in Birmingham have responded angrily to plans to cut costs by reducing the number of wardens and rangers. They warn that it “undermines one of the city’s premiere resources”.

Attempts to streamline parks maintenance have been held up by delays in introducing a new hand held computer system called POPI which will allow wardens to work from a series of “hubs” and be directed to the areas of greatest need.

When it’s finally introduced, the aim will be to reduce budgets in the hard-pressed Leisure, Sport and Culture Department – but the Birmingham Open Spaces Forum, which represents a wide range of users, remains unimpressed.

In a submission to the City Council seen by The Stirrer, BOSF notes with alarm the proposed reduction of Constituency Parks Managers from 10 to 4, and warns that it “does not believe that a service equivalent to the one delivered now can be accomplished with that reduction in the number of posts…for some of these posts the officers will be providing a service for 3 Constituencies with no provision for sickness or holiday cover.”

The organisation says that it recognises the budgetary pressures, facing the Council but is “concerned that the reductions in staff numbers, appear to be focussed on front facing posts – Rangers and CPMS – rather than contract management and planning posts.”

And they warn, “the outreach capabilities of the Parks Service will be seriously hindered by the reduction in the number of posts.”

It also emerges that the Ranger Service is facing cuts because of a reduction in funds from the Education Service – which was also behind the introduction of charging for school visits.

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