Lochaber rangers saved from axe

The Oban Times - - News -

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.’

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