Save Beacon Fell Ranger services: petition

Countryside Ranger Pete Weston is also an information assistant at the visitor centre on  Beacon Fell and can help with all enquiries.
Countryside Ranger Pete Weston is also an information assistant at the visitor centre on Beacon Fell and can help with all enquiries.

A petition has been set up to save Beacon Fell from massive cuts.

Following the shock news that the popular attraction is among several sites set to be hit by Lancashire County Council’s multi-million pound budget cuts, the Countryside Ranger volunteers that look after the popular attraction have launched campaign to get public support to save it.

It’s clear the Countryside Service will not exist in its current form beyond 2018

Countryside Ranger

Ranger and volunteer Pete Weston from Longridge said “There is now a petition at Beacon Fell asking the public for support.

“A letter has been sent to Nigel Evans and Longridge Councillor Dave Smith, written by Patricia Barlow, a ranger and one of the Friends of Beacon Fell.

“People are shocked and beginning to respond.”

That’s the view of countryside ranger Pete Weston, who is spearheading a campaign to save Beacon Fell from savage funding cuts.

Lancashire County Council’s budget proposals announced last month details how the council plans to save £65m over the next two years.

Cuts locally would mean funding of the Countryside Service, which covers Beacon Fell, could stop by April 2018.

But now a petition has been launched to protect the service and ranger Pete wants the public to get behind the campaign.

He said: “Petitions to object have also been set up for Wycoller Country Park as well as threatened museums and libraries, and environment minister Marcus Johnston is being contacted.”

Pete claims what the Countryside Service adds to the parks and fells is security with full-time and volunteer rangers patrolling, looking out for damage to footpaths, fences, dry stone walls, overgrown vegetation, anything that can be regarded as a hazard to the public.

He fears vital assets like Beacon Fell will deteriorate if funding is pulled.

He added that his team had been aware for a while that the Ranger Service was going through a review. “It could be more of an urban/town to country link,” he said.

“What we did not expect is the proposal to end the service. It’s obvious the county council still has to make massive cuts somewhere.

“A combination of increased service demands, especially in social care, and reductions in central government funding means that by 2018 the council will have a shortfall in its budget of £230m. So it’s clear the Countryside Service will not exist in its current form beyond 2018.”

He explained the Ranger service with its volunteers were an integral part of the countrysides’ parks and had benefits for both the individual volunteers and the LCC encouraging outdoor activities with well documented benefits in line with current national health strategy.

Two weeks ago, it was reported the ranger service was under threat in Lancashire County Council’s proposed savings of £65m.

Final decisions on funding cuts are to be made in the coming months.

At the time, council leader Coun Jennifer Mein, said: “These are the most challenging times for local government in living memory as we face relentless central government cuts and rising demand.”