A CRUCIAL meeting to decide on the future of the park ranger service will take place tonight (Thursday, October 11).

Ealing Council has announced plans to reduce the number of ranger bases from four to two, which would be based in Acton and Southall, and to halve the number of management staff.

However, local residents fear moving services away from their current bases will mean an increase in crime, and a reduction in the amount of work rangers are able to carry out.

Carolyn Brown, of the Lawns Residents' Association in Hanwell, said: "I sincerely hope we can retain the Brent Lodge base and that we get a commitment to maintain the existing staffing numbers as well.

"There has been no consultation between the council and park users, residents or even the police, and yet they are telling us that Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) will be able to fill the gap.

"But surely the police will use the extra PCSOs they are getting in crime hotspots.

"We have more than 520 signatures on a petition to stop these changes.

"We want a strategic long term vision for this service, not short term operational tweaking."

The decision to cut services was called in by the Lib Dem councillors after the plans were approved by the council's cabinet.

The meeting takes place at 7pm in Ealing Town Hall.

Visit www.ealingtimes.co.uk tomorrow (Friday, October 12) for a full report on the meeting.