One of Labourâ€™s most controversial cuts has been in the area of park rangers. The opposition felt that the administration had gone much too far with this and called in Labourâ€™s decision. The cabinet did relent and put back in two rangers but the cuts are quite eye-watering all the same and will lead to a material change for the worse in our parks I am afraid.
Labour will say that the Tories cut rangers too. They are right, but they are wrong. You can see the details here. Over three years ago, in the context of the Tories making Â£60 million of savings over four years we re-organised the rangers from four teams of five with four team leaders to two teams of ten with two team leaders. This change preserved the frontline labour force of 20 whilst making a sensible saving. It is hard to argue that the service was much diminished. The team leaders might have relished the chance to do some hands-on rangering rather than manage bigger teams but it was a reasonable ask. So in 2008 the rangers went from 24 to 22. Two team leaders and twenty rangers.
Since that decision an apprentice ranger post was added to the team leaving it at 23 at the end of the Conservative term of office.
The original Labour proposals published in November saw the team of 23 replaced with four area rangers and a conservation team comprising a team leader and four staff. So 9 people covering the same space. For the detail see page 8, 9, 21 and 22 of this document. It is worth noting that when the proposals were published all 22 ranger related posts were filled (although one was an agency worker). The only unfilled post was the apprentice. Now that two area rangers have been added back in you could say that the ranger team has gone from 23 to 6. It might be fairer to say that is has gone from 23 to 11 as the current rangers do conservation. This is a 52% cut in headcount terms. This huge priority for our residents has been treated much more harshly than areas such as comms, union facility time and service heads.