Campaigners collect 900 signatures to save park ranger jobs in Barking and Dagenham

Campaigner: Steve Drake opposes plans to make seven park ranger posts redundant

Campaigner: Steve Drake opposes plans to make seven park ranger posts redundant - Credit: Archant

Green campaigners have gathered more than 900 signatures to stop council chiefs from doing away with rangers helping protect wildlife in parks.

Petitioner Steve Drake, 51, warned that protected species would suffer and park vandalism increase if Barking and Dagenham Council axes seven rangers as part of a £260,000 cost-cutting drive.

Steve and other campaigners added the plans to halve the ranger service would drastically reduce the number of outdoor activities for pupils in Barking and Dagenham.

They have collected 916 signatures to stop the cuts but it emerged last year that at least 1,500 petitioners would now be needed to force council bosses to table a debate about any issue of concern in Barking and Dagenham.

Mr Drake, of Eastbrook Drive, Dagenham, said: “We’re hoping they will say we need some sort of presence and save a couple of rangers, this way everybody would be happy.

“This will not only affect Eastbrookend Country Park, the rangers look after all the parks in Barking and Dagenham.

“They have done a risk assessment and they know that vanadalism and other things are going to increase by taking them away.”

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Barking and Dagenham Council said the ranger service cuts were one of the “difficult decisions” it was having to consider to save £23million in the next two years.

A spokesman said today: “The savings’ decision for the ranger service is part of the overall budget package which is expected to be endorsed by council assembly later this month.

“This is one of many difficult decisions which the council has had to make in order to save £8million for 2013/14, and a further £15m the following year.

“We are continuing to plan how best to manage the ranger service after April if the proposal is approved.”

To sign the online petition, log on to the the Dagenham Chase Local Nature Reserve website.