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Former council gardener criticises plans to cutback park maintenance

Pete Fawcett has described the new maintenance model as "flawed and inefficient"

A former council gardener has criticised Kirklees Council’s new maintenance plans for the borough’s parks as “flawed” and “inefficient”.

Monday (17 June), the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) reported that a petition hoping to retain a gardener at Huddersfield’s Beaumont Park had racked up hundreds of signatures. The Friends of Beaumont Park group launched the petition amid fears the park would become

This came in response to the council’s move towards restructuring its gardening service, with larger groups of mobile gardeners favoured over individual teams for each park.

Former local authority gardener, Pete Fawcett has spoken out in response to the council plans.

He said: “The neglect of our Parks by Kirklees Council has been ongoing for years. The idea that a mobile gang going round spending a third of the day stuck in traffic is flawed and inefficient. A gardener working from a base can get more work done.

“Education comes into it as well, there has been a lack of it. The closing of Bradley Nurseries was a big mistake in that regard – a closure decision made by former Kirklees Council Chief Executive, Jacqui Gedman, has been awarded an OBE.

“The idea that Parks cost money is also wrong. Parks within town centres bring people into town who spend more money as a result. Born out by Kirklees Council themselves with the ‘Garden Street’ project.

“So I ask, why the neglect?”

However, the council has previously defended its plans in the face of the petition. David Shepherd, Strategic Director for Growth & Regeneration at Kirklees Council, said: “We take pride in the beautiful parks and greenspaces we have in Kirklees, and we want to maintain these as best we can. However, as with most councils across the country, we need to make difficult decisions to balance our budgets.

“The outcome of a service review will see us move away from dedicated teams for individual parks, to ones that look after larger areas. We aim to retain and retrain as many staff as possible into alternative positions within the council.

“We do recognise how important our greenspaces are to residents of all ages, and we will continue to support our amazing community groups in helping us to maintain these in the future.”

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