Fears over return of sex visitors to Lincoln's Hartsholme Park if rangers are axed
People in Lincoln fear sex visitors and drug users will return to a family park if council plans to axe the city's urban rangers are approved.
Residents claim "doggers", who meet up for sexual liaisons in public, were driven from Hartsholme Country Park when the nuisance-busting rangers formed years ago.
But many claim problems will again blight the attraction if the City of Lincoln Council confirms its proposals.
More than 1,200 people have signed a petition to save the three-man squad and a commons warden.
Petitioner Nikki Hughes, a 27-year-old mum from Hazelwood Avenue, said: "The rangers are antisocial behaviour deterrents and in a lot of places they are the only people like that.
"Hartsholme Park was renowned for its doggers and now there are none at all, but I think they will return. And I could probably guarantee groups of kids will be drinking and take drugs there if the rangers go. Especially in the summer holidays, it's going to be a free for all.
"It's going to be mayhem."
The city council says a £3 million Government funding drop has forced it to make savings.
Its plans include axing the £38,000-a-year commons warden, the three rangers, which cost £88,000 a year, and the sports development team.
The rangers investigate a range of problems at around 80 council-owned open spaces, from fly-tipping to vandalism.
The council said the jobs would go during the next 12 months, if the plans are approved.
Ms Hughes, who has two young children, thinks the cuts will mean more antisocial behaviour and litter, deterring families from visiting parks.
"Everybody will only realise how much good they do when they're gone," she said.
"The police rely on them as well because they are more likely to go to things. If we go to the park we want to make sure we know our kids are safe. Give it one to two years and it will be back to how it was.
"A lot of people are quite shocked that the council is going to get rid of something that we desperately need."
Other cost-saving city council proposals include charging £25 a year for garden waste collections and pulling the £50,000 Walk and Ride bus subsidy.
It also intends to reduce the Lincoln Drill Hall grant support by £75,000, spread over four to five years, and cut the £1,000 a year per councillor ward budget.
Ric Metcalfe, leader of the city council said: "We recognise these services will be a great loss to the city.
"These are proposals we would never had even considered except for the very serious financial the government has placed us in.
"We will be doing everything we can to try and avoid making compulsory redundancies of the staff affected.
"We are looking at ways which at least some of the activities undertaken be the urban rangers and commons warden can be carried out in other ways."
The council will consider its new budget at a meeting on March 5, ahead of decision on the urban rangers being made on April 16.