Councillors have expressed concerns over potential job cuts which could impact the maintenance of already overgrown parks and sports grounds.

Speaking at a meeting of Kirklees Council’s Cabinet on Tuesday, Clr Jo Lawson – leader of Kirklees Community Independents Group – said that 19 of the 72 parks staff could lose their jobs.

Clr Lawson (Ind, Crosland Moor & Netherton) said a lack of maintenance in parks and playing fields meant people were being put off from going there.

“We’ve all got parks and play areas but what I’m increasingly finding in Crosland Moor and Netherton is the parks are overgrown and equipment is not safe,” she said.

“My concern is in playing fields where kids are supposed to have physical activity the grass is not being cut often enough.

“Now I find out there are 19 out of 72 parks staff that are facing redundancy, that’s something that needs to be looked at.

“We need to get people out for their mental health and wellbeing and when you have areas not fit for purpose, people are frequently avoiding those.”

The debate came amid fears that the council was to remove the full-time gardener from Beaumont Park.

More than 800 people have now signed a petition, set up by the Friends of Beaumont Park, opposing the move.


Beaumont Park won  “local favourite” status in the Fields in Trust coveted UK’s Favourite Parks 2022 awards


Clr Zahid Kahut (Ind, Batley West) said there were problems with grass cutting in his area too where cut grass was left and not collected. He also said bowling greens were not properly maintained and had dandelions growing on them.

He said the grass was eventually cut but it “wasn’t a proper job.”

Clr Viv Kendrick (Lab, Heckmondwike) said she had been told that the council would no longer cut four bowling greens in Heckmondwike.

“For years we have been told this is a specialist job. Can some thought be given to the number of staff we have? There’s only so many hours in the day.

“Things are just stopping happening and that is affecting some of the older members of our community.”

Council leader Cathy Scott (Ind, Dewsbury East) said it wasn’t for councillors to decide on “operational” matters and blamed underfunding for cuts to services.

It was now council policy to “enable communities” to carry out certain activities by providing them with equipment and tools.

“It won’t be everything,” she added. “But we need to support communities to do more.”

Clr Lawson said: “It took me six and a half months for a small play area to finally be done. This is not an isolated case.

“It’s about regular maintenance – about the grass being cut, bushes coming down. Yes, communities do go out and do litter picks but we cannot just rely on volunteers to take a lawnmower round a sports field to cut the grass, can we?”

Clr Yusra Hussain, Cabinet member for culture and greener Kirklees, said: “There’s a timetable so when the time comes (the grass) will be cut. But the team is very small and they do a fantastic job with the limited resources they have.”



In a previous statement, David Shepherd, strategic director for growth and regeneration, 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.”

The Cabinet meeting was also told that the council had been successful in slashing its projected overspend from £20 million early in the last financial year to £7.3 million by the end.

Council leader Cathy Scott said while that was positive, there was still a crisis in local authority finance.

She said the council had taken “decisive action” which had been successful in stabilising the council’s financial position but there was no room for complacency, even with a change of national government.


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