PARKS in Kirklees are to lose their staff on winter evenings and weekends.
Kirklees Council will withdraw its evening and weekend staff at the area's five major parks: Greenhead Park, Beaumont Park and Ravensknowle Park in Huddersfield, Wilton Park in Batley and Crow Nest Park in Dewsbury, from the end of this month.
And they will not be back on duty until April - a move criticised by the union Unison.
For several years the council's Presence in Parks scheme has employed park keepers on winter weekends and evenings to remove litter, broken glass, fallen leaves and to tend the gardens.
Unison officlas say they are a reassuring presence for the public and deter vandals.
During the summer, there are 20 evening and weekend park keepers, but this number drops to just five in winter.
Chris Brown is an evening and weekend park keeper at Ravensknowle Park.
He said: "It is an outrage because the public are paying high council tax and they like us to be here. There is a lot we can do in the winter that we can't in summer.
"Income is also an issue, because you can't keep good staff if they have to look for additional work."
Public services union Unison, which represents the park keepers, is fighting the council's plan and has written to the party leaders on Kirklees Council.
Nick Turner, Unison steward for the parks department, said:
"It's going to be a bitter blow. Unison calls on the council to reverse this proposed cancellation of a tried and tested service to the public."
However, Kirklees Council claims it will be more efficient to lose winter staff so that more workers can be employed during the summer months, when demand is higher.
A spokeswoman said: "The council decided to re-align existing resources to cover a greater number of sites, including many secondary parks, in addition to major parks.
"This has involved a small reduction in the amount of staffing during off-peak winter months."