Me & My Job: Steve Richards, park ranger, Burnley Borough Council

Steve Richards, park ranger, Burnley Borough Council. Image: Burnley BC
Steve Richards, park ranger, Burnley Borough Council. Image: Burnley BC

How did you get started? I have always loved being outside and, from an early age, I would go for miles through fields, woodlands and parks and in all kinds of weather. But after leaving school, I had a couple of really bad jobs. I worked in a foundry and then in a paper mill. Both of these were like going back into Victorian times — really bad experiences. By chance, I met a friend who informed me that he had a got a job with the council at Princess Way, which involved being outside on various jobs. I was down like a shot on the Friday and started on the Monday.

What does your typical day involve? I arrive to work at Thompson Park, as I have done for the past 30 years. I usually have business to sort from the day before — the rangers write daily patrol sheets. I will go through the previous day's sheets, sorting out any problems that require attention. I will do the daily patrol sheet telling the rangers what to do. I will have plans, such as meetings to attend, and everything can seem to be in order but then the telephone rings. A day can be taken up dealing with request after request. I have reports to write for activities we carry out on daily routines. Alternatively, it could be a dull day with little going on. This gives you a chance to catch up.

What is the best part of your job? Where do I start? I love helping people. If a person has a problem, I will help them out. I try to give all problems that come to me the same attention. Once sorted, I get a big buzz that lasts for a couple of minutes then I'm off to find the next problem to sort.

And the worst? Budget restraints and savings, year after year. I have seen the ranger team drop in numbers in recent years and this saddens me each time it happens. I really fear that the ranger numbers will drop so much that we are no longer effective.

What piece of kit can't you do without? It must be the mobile telephone. I have the office landline diverted to my mobile at all times when on duty. This means anyone can always contact me and I get their problem sorted quickly and efficiently. I can also contact other sections within the council to get a speedy response to any problems. Emergency services can be contacted as well as all rangers on duty. I really cannot see the mobile telephone not being used within the ranger section.

What does the future hold? I feel that the future for rangers has got to be one of rebuilding the role of the ranger. When the council asks residents questions about their thoughts on the area, at the top of the agenda are litter, dog fouling, antisocial behaviour and feeling safe while in parks. The ranger section covers all these. In my opinion, we have got to survive so as to be able to serve the public with their requests. The future has got to be employing more rangers in one guise or another. If this were to happen, I would end my career on a massive high.


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