THOUSANDS of council workers in Wirral are to get time off to volunteer in the community.
More than 12,000 staff and councillors will be given half a day off a year to work on conservation projects.
It is hoped the move will encourage more people to get involved in voluntary groups and increase the profile of the local authority.
Workers will be encouraged to help out on projects such as heathland clearances in Thurstaston Common, Bidston Hill and on beach clean-ups.
There are also plans to extend it to other charitable work carried out in the borough. Conservative Leader Jeff Green said it would mean voluntary groups getting thousands more helpers every year.
He said: "This is a fantastic idea which would work right across the council staff. It has the potential to make a real difference to community projects and will give staff a chance to get closer to the community and increase the council's visibility in the borough.
"It would also benefit elected members who, especially when the scheme is extended beyond the ranger service, would be able to gain better insight into the work of volunteers on Wirral."
In a report to the council, director of technical services Dave Green said: "Staff would be allowed half a day per year to work on conservation projects identified by the Head Ranger. They will be able to sign up for a project that interests them.
"The scheme would promote a sense of inclusion, aid team-building in the newly established departments, contribute to the maintenance and conservation of Wirral's natural environment and strengthen partnerships with existing external voluntary groups."
Mr Green said services would not be affected by the scheme and managers would have to agree for staff having the time off. The project would help the borough meet environmental targets.
He said:"The successful completion of the majority of maintenance and conservation tasks relies largely on voluntary work."
Every year, workers from Lever Faberge factory in Port Sunlight encourages employees to volunteer on week-long community projects.