January 23, 2001 10:30: Controversial council plans to allow private firms to run four parks in Bromley are to be challenged by Unison, which is balloting its members for strike action.

Under the new proposals, the council will hand over the complete running of four parks to private contractors who are currently only carrying out grass-cutting and litter-picking duties.

Unison branch secretary Glen Kelly said: This proposal amounts to privatisation of the parks and we believe the quality of the current service and the safety and well-being of the public will be jeopardised.

It will also impose intolerable working conditions on the remaining staff.

Bromley leisure and services marketing manager Brian Turpin denied the argument.

He said: We want to bring back old-fashioned park keepers and are checking the best way to do it.

The proposals target Kelsey Park, in Kelsey, Croydon Road Recreation Ground, in Penge, Priory Gardens, in Orpington, and Church House Gardens/Queens Gardens, in Bromley.