Lochaber rangers saved from axe
HIGHLAND Council’s Countryside Ranger and Access team has been saved in the council’s budget proposals for 2017/18.
Leader Margaret Davidson said the council had made the decision after listening to representations about the team from more than 60 individuals, as well as organsations such as the Scottish Countryside Rangers’ Association, Scottish Wildlife Trust, John Muir Trust, RSPB Scotland, Mountaineering Scotland and Scottish Youth Hostel Associ- ation. Ms Davidson said: ‘As part of the council’s budget proposals, we have revised the rangers and access team savings and are seeking to retain both services with minor reductions and restructuring.
‘ Importantly, we understand the value that is placed on countryside services and the high regard with which they are held within the community. The council’s proposals will only have a limited impact on the future of the service.
‘ I would like to thank all of the public who commented for their response on the matter. They obviously highly regard the service and we have listened.’
A spokesman for Mountaineering Scotland said: ‘ We’re delighted to hear of this reprieve for the ranger service. Services such as these encourage and enable people to experience positive, life- changing opportunities.
‘ We’re constantly told of the importance of getting off the sofa, and the benefits to physical and mental health which come from outdoor pursuits are well-attested. To cut such services would result in additional pressure on the National Health Service and other social services from an increasingly unhealthy population.
‘ We have appealed both to councils and to the Scottish Government to take a long hard look at this issue, to avoid cuts in the short-term and develop a coherent and forward-looking policy which protects and promotes such essential services as these.’