Fresh hope for the urban ranger service in Lincoln threatened by budget cuts
Lincoln's urban ranger service could be saved from the axe after councillors urged a rethink.
Scrapping the three rangers and commons warden from June has been mooted due to budget pressures faced by the City of Lincoln Council.
The ruling Labour executive will seal their fate at a meeting on March 25.
But Labour and Conservative policy scrutiny committee members were united in urging the executive to instead look at merging the warden and rangers to ensure some level of protection.
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The scrutiny committee also agreed to forward a 1,200-signature petition from people who want to keep the rangers.
Councillor Andrew Kerry suggested the idea of keeping one or two rangers, but John Bibby, director of housing and community services, questioned if a good enough service would be provided.
The meeting heard police have concerns about the risk of increased vandalism and anti-social behaviour if the services were pulled.
The possibility of business sponsorship for the rangers was also raised, but it was pointed out that such support would need to be guaranteed over several years.
Lead petitioner Nikki Hughes, 27, of Hazelwood Avenue, Lincoln, told councillors that residents do not want the city's green spaces descending into no go areas.
Mrs Hughes, who lives near Hartsholme Park, said: "I live on an estate and I live next to a green area. I have two young kids and it frightens the life out of me that something so important to every community in Lincoln is possibly going to be withdrawn.
"The rangers are three blokes who do an amazing job. They see things and stop them happening. The police deal with a situation after it happens.
"We go to local green areas because it's free and it's a local day out. The possibility that the rangers might not be there is kind of scary."
The council has identified £3 million worth of savings over the next three years due to reduced Government grant and despite making savings of £3.8 million since 2008.
It wants to withdraw the £38,000-a-year commons warden, the three rangers, which cost £88,000 a year, and the sports development team.
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 to all 33 councillors.