St Helens’ ranger service numbers cut in half

St Helens Council leader Barrie Grunewald outside the town hall
St Helens Council leader Barrie Grunewald outside the town hall

The number of rangers working in St Helens’ park and woodlands is to be halved as part of a council cost-cutting exercise.

It comes as St Helens Council’s environmental services grapples with budget cuts of £2.23m.

In past years, there were around 30 rangers working across the borough.

That number was whittled down to eight after swingeing government budgets and will now be cut to four.

A St Helens Council spokesman said: “With savings of £2.23m needed to be found from St Helens Council’s environmental services budget during 2017/18, as a non-statutory service, a delegated executive decision has been made to reduce the number of park rangers, without the need of forced redundancies.

“Four rangers will now operate the borough’s parks in partnership with the council’s grounds maintenance team.”

St Helens Council’s Cabinet Member for Green, Smart and Sustainable Borough, Councillor Seve Gomez-Aspron, said: “We all know what great work our rangers do in local parks, but with essential services like adult and children’s social care to protect – despite a further reduction in national funding – we are faced with the difficult task of identifying the least worst options in order to make savings.

“This has been forced on us by the Government’s austerity policy. The national debt has tripled, yet the Government is committed to cutting a further £20.6m between now and 2020 from our council.

“This is austerity. If people don’t like the outcomes, as I don’t, then they don’t like austerity – a Government choice which isn’t working.

“Fortunately we were able to avoid forced redundancies here, but a devastating part of austerity means we have to cut staff who do a fantastic job.

“It isn’t fair but the Government are making us do it by cutting so much.”