At 73, Peter the park-keeper is told: It’s time for you to go

73-year-old Peter Binns park ranger at Manor Heath has been sacked by Calderdale Council.
73-year-old Peter Binns park ranger at Manor Heath has been sacked by Calderdale Council.

ONE of the country’s oldest “parkies” has been told to hang up his uniform and get out his gardening gloves.

But for 73-year-old Peter Binns, who patrols Manor Heath, in Halifax, it is a terrible blow.

“I’m fit and active, and the council says my track record is exemplary, so I would like to carry on for another few years.

“But I feel I’m heading for the scrapheap,” he told the Courier.

The government intends to scrap the default retirement age in the UK from October.

Under the proposal, employers would not be allowed to dismiss staff because they had reached the age of 65.

Mr Binns was just starting his sixth year patrolling the park at weekends, having spent a similar period as a CCTV security officer, when Calderdale Council blew the whistle.

The former Army sergeant’s employment contract comes up for renewal every 12 months.

Community services spokeswoman Pauline Nash said she could not comment on Mr Binns’ particular circumstances but said she had some sympathy for people who wanted to work beyond normal retirement age.

“If people want to work longer, they should be able to do so providing they can do their job properly.

“But remaining can reduce the opportunities available for younger people or prevent others progressing in their career,” said Coun Nash (Lib-Dem, Skircoat).

Conservative leader Stephen Baines (Northowram and Shelf) said older people often had a wealth of knowedge and experience which could be wasted if they were forced to give up work when they reached a certain age.

“If someone is fit and able why should they be forced to give up work?” said Coun Baines.

“We have plenty of politicians and MPs who remain in office after 65.”

For Mr Binns, who lives at Siddal, Halifax, it looks like he will be spending more time in his own garden.

“I will miss the job despite being spit and sworn at on occasions.

“They are going to have to employ someone else, particularly on gala day when there can be more than 12,000 people on Manor Heath.”