0 Shepton groundsman's job fight gains backing from petition

A petition for Collett Park groundsman Daniel White has being signed by thousands of people outraged at his redundancy.

Mr White, who has learning difficulties, has worked in Collett Park for 27 years. His mother, Rachel Williams, said he was promised it would be a job for life.

A petition called Landscape Group Limited: Let Daniel keep his job was set up over the weekend and has gained almost 3,000 signatures from people worldwide.

Mrs Williams said: "I'm amazed what's going on - it's absolutely wonderful. It's unbelievable and I'm so pleased because Daniel does not deserve this."

Mr White, 44, was 17 when he when he was hired by Shepton Mallet Town Council as an assistant in the park. A charity, the Shaw Trust, paid a small portion of his wages.

In 2002, the contract passed to private company Quadron, and Mr White continued to work happily in the park for another 11 years.

In November last year, Coventry-based Landscape Group Ltd, took over as part of a multi-service contract with Mendip District Council.

The new contract welcomed the transfer of employees from the three existing contractors but the company was then "challenged with providing a cost-effective solution to delivering a range of diverse services" across such a wide area.

It opted for multi-skilled mobile teams. Mendip District Council approved but health and safety concerns mean that Mr White cannot join them.

In a statement, Landscape Group Ltd said it spent 12 months trying to find a role "within the contract and beyond which could offer a safe working environment in line with this employee's needs." It failed, despite engaging an occupational therapist to assess Mr White's limitations and his capabilities.

The company proposed redundancy on the grounds that the type of work Mr White has done would cease to exist when the neighbourhood teams were introduced.

A spokeswoman said: "At every step of the process, the employee's health, safety and happiness was prioritised and we engaged with specialist services as well as the employee's family to ensure everyone was fully involved. We regret that we have had to lose this employee and wish them all the best in their future employment."

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