As Salford Council proposes to cut three Rangers' jobs, the effects are already being predicted by those who work alongside the team…
"If the Ranger Team are not available to organise and supervise activities in future, our Association, and others across Salford, will be unable to offer these beneficial ecological projects and educational sessions to our community, and the good work of previous years will be undone" says Bruce Thompson of Ellesmere Park Residents Association.
"Salford's green spaces need protection and there are willing volunteers to assist in this, but knowledge and guidance will always be required" he adds "This is the role of the Ranger team, working with the community to encourage active outdoor work, with a benefit for all concerned."
The Council argues that `friends' and residents groups currently working around green spaces with the rangers should "become more independent and self sufficient". But the volunteers who work with rangers say their work will be severely curtailed.
"We are a very small group but have become well known throughout the community for our activities in the Park. This has only been possible with help of the Ranger team" say Elizabeth Corser and Pat Taylor from Friends of Victoria Park.
"We have been awarded the Green Flag over the past few years due to the commitment of the Ranger, the Gardeners and the Friends group" they add "We feel that without the Rangers support and enthusiasm the young people's activities will cease. As a result Victoria Park will be unable to be used to its full potential by all sections of the community, young and old alike."
The Council talks about "revised programmes" and that "we are confident the impact of the budget efficiency can be minimised". However, it's hard to see how the three rangers who are left in the team can cover `over 60 parks and open spaces' that the Council is fond of boasting about.
Meanwhile, two new rangers' posts are being created to help maintain, what Salford Council calls "externally funded projects", mainly around the Irwell River Park, as revealed by Salford Star in February (see here).
The Irwell River Park (IRP), when finished will cost an estimated £72million, and is basically about putting in new routes, bridges, footpaths and follies around stretches of the River Irwell and Manchester Ship Canal that run between Manchester, the University of Salford and MediaCityUK (see Salford Star articles – click here)
While the Park does have `external grant funding', Salford Council itself is putting £millions into the project – including £150,000, over three years, from its `revenue funding' for the IRP's `maintenance' on the route from Manchester City Centre to MediaCityUK, via Ordsall riverside. A Council report states that "revenue funding is available for park rangers and a volunteer programme which will maintain the route and encourage community use".
Basically, what we believe is going on, is a shift in resources for green spaces from outlying districts of Salford to prestige sites around MediaCityUK, Manchester City Centre and Salford University. Or two Salford rangers for prestige sites, and three for the rest of Salford - which will have a detrimental impact on areas such as Clifton Country Park, Blackleach Country Park and Victoria Park.
It's with this in mind that supporters of the Salford Rangers Team, including Salford City UNISON, have organised a public event this Sunday at Clifton Country Park, which will be a recognition of the valuable work the Rangers do.
As one Salford Ranger explains… "Green spaces need to be cared for, and local people need to be involved, to help them respect and understand their environment.
"Without a Ranger presence, the quality of the environment will decline, and they become hot spots for crime and antisocial behaviour" they add "The cost to Salford Council of repairing the damage will far exceed any savings made by cutting the Ranger Team. It's a false economy that will become apparent when the Rangers have gone."
Support Salford Park Rangers
Sunday 14th April, 1pm
Clifton Country Park
Clifton House Road
Clifton, M27 6NG
See also previous Salford Star article - Salford Ranger Team Cuts Massacre - click here