Fun days, bonfires and events next to face the axe at Walsall in bid to save £360k

Bonfires, fun days and Easter egg hunts are the latest to face the axe at Walsall Council as part of plans to save more than £360,000.

An 18-strong team which manages nearly 100 parks, play areas and countryside sites would also be cut by more than a quarter, with compulsory redundancies likely.

The proposals have been tabled by Walsall Council which plans to slash its budget by more than £29m next year.

But claims have been made that it will ‘devastate’ parks in the borough and attack the most vulnerable in society.

Under the plans, jobs that would be cut by April 2015 include a senior countryside ranger post, two park rangers and a strategic development officer.

The vacant senior manager position would also be made redundant.

It comes after it emerged £900,000 less will be spent on maintaining parks and green spaces in the borough.

A report on the proposals states: “Other savings include a reduction in community events and activities to achieve a saving of £362,708 in 2015/16.”

It adds: “Events such as bonfires, Easter egg hunts, fun days, etc will cease.”

The report states that the funding cuts could mean parks become less attractive, anti-social behaviour, vandalism and litter could rise and there may be an increase in complaints and claims against the council for slips, trips and falls on green spaces.

It also states that environmental enforcement action could fall and the plans might put the council’s prestigious Green Flag awards at risk.

Chairman of the Friends of Darlaston South Parks, Councillor Paul Bott said the proposals were ‘terrible’.

He said: “It’s going to devastate our parks. They help people keep active and fit.

“We’ve spent a fortune getting Green Flags for our parks, just to go backwards. We’ve worked hard to get a lot of investment in the parks in Darlaston.

“Events at the parks are very popular and it would be terrible to get rid of them.

“In the holidays, parents are trying to find kids something to do. The fun days are an attraction to the kids.

“It is very disappointing that this will hit the most vulnerable people in society.”

It comes as the council has unveiled its controversial masterplan to save £86 million from its budget over the next four years.

Bosses want to make savings of £29.2 million next year, with 487 jobs set to be axed between April 2015 and March 2017.

Other cost cutting measures include charges being introduced for garden waste collections and

The next phase of the budget consultation will launch on October 30 when people can comment on the draft proposals.

They will go before full council in February 2015 when they will approve the final budget.

Express and Star story here