Brighton & Hove Friends of the Earth (BHFOE) is condemning the announcement by Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC) which gives the impression that the ranger service faces a reprieve from cuts. Previously, the Council had announced it was proposing to slash the number of City Parks rangers from nine to just three. Now the Labour administration is suggesting that five rangers might be kept . However, that still means the loss of at least 4 rangers.
BHFOE is concerned that while this is slightly better than previously proposed, the Council is hiding the true impact of its proposed budget by not including an unfilled vacancy in the cuts and moving a post from another area into the ranger service. It still intends to make a £102,000 saving from supposedly cutting only 2.2 full time equivalent posts. This does not add up and BHFOE is pressing the Council for the true impact of the cuts to the ranger service to be made public.
It is supporting outraged volunteers from across the city outside BHCC’s Policy and Resources Committee on Thursday at The Brighthelm Centre where there will be protests and questions about the cuts .
Chris Todd of BHFOE said:
“The Council is still proposing taking a hatchet to the ranger service, despite the headlines. A 40% cut is not a reprieve and risks undermining the many hundreds of volunteers and local groups in the city. This announcement appears to be a game of smoke and mirrors, hiding the true impact of the devastation.
“There still has been no community engagement or proper scrutiny of exactly what level of ranger service is sustainable and what is needed to manage and support the huge volunteer workforce. Unfortunately, there still seems to be a lack of awareness of the importance of good quality green space. It is not a luxury, it is a basic necessity.”
 There are currently 9 rangers, working the equivalent of 8.2 full time workers. There is however, a 0.8 full time equivalent (FTE) vacancy that has not been filled and this would also be lost in these cuts. This would mean the level of cuts in reality is around 45% – 9 FTE down to 5 FTE.
In the Policy and Resource papers, which are not consistent, the cuts are presented as going from 9.2 FTE to 7 FTE, but this includes a manager who is not being cut and an arborist which comes effectively from another team and helps hide the loss of another ranger. While the rangers do a good job, they are not terribly well paid, and losing only 2.2 FTE as suggested by the Council papers does not equate to savings of £102,000 that the Council is proposing will still be made in the service.
 BHCC’s Policy & Resources Committee will meet on Thursday at The Brighthelm Centre, North Road, Brighton at 4pm. Cllrs Phelim MacCafferty and Geoffrey Theobald have tabled questions about the ranger service.