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Lib Dems attack Labour's plan to "police" city parks

July 10, 2014 1:33 PM

Catherine SmartCambridge Liberal Democrats have hit out at Labour's radical move to "police" the city's open spaces by doubling the City Council's enforcement team.

They claim immediately "criminalising" dog fouling or littering is inappropriate and not good for the city in the long term.

Instead they propose the creation of four seasonal part-time Park Rangers to look after the most used public open spaces at the busiest times of the year.

Their duties could stretch from on the spot first aid to litter management and the issue of fixed penalty notices where appropriate.

It is envisaged the rangers would work a three day week, including weekends and public holidays.

Labour wants to increase the council's public realm enforcement team from three to six and increase the dog warden's hours from part-time to full time. The changes would be preceded by a public awareness campaign advising people that the council was getting tougher on its approach to public spaces.

Catherine Smart, Deputy Leader of Cambridge Liberal Democrats said: "We think there is a fine line to be drawn between engagement and education and pouncing on someone the minute they put a foot wrong.

"Labour's approach is heavy-handed and in most cases unnecessary. Taking the attitude that everyone who allows their dog to foul in the park or drops litter should be immediately criminalised is not appropriate. It's a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

"We want people to feel comfortable in our open spaces not that they are being watched; and we don't want our city to get a reputation for being overbearing."

Labour's proposals have been included in amendments to the City Council Budget which will go before members of the council's Strategy and Resources Scrutiny Committee meet on Monday (July 4).

Lib Dems want the plans deleted and their idea for new Park Rangers added.