SAVED: Herne and Broomfield community warden Michelle Weston’s job will not be axed
COMMUNITY wardens in Herne Bay will not be axed as feared in a county council cost-saving cull.
Michelle Weston, who works in Herne and Broomfield, and colleague Dave Neame, who works in Greenhill, were told in August that their posts were under threat as part of a plan by Kent County Council (KCC) to cut the number of wardens from 79 to 40 and save £1.2 million.
But KCC has now made a U-turn and plans to retain the uniformed service at its current level.
Herne and Broomfield Parish Council had vowed to fight the cut. Chairman Ann Blatherwick said: “The parish council is extremely pleased that KCC have decided to retain the warden scheme, virtually unchanged. We are grateful that so many parish councils, wardens and county councillors, especially our own Alan Marsh, responded to the consultation with such enthusiasm.
“The wardens do a marvellous job and are a huge asset to the communities they serve and they would be greatly missed.
“We would like to thank KCC members for listening to everyone’s views and acting accordingly. It does show that when people are united the authorities do take notice.”
Mike Hill, KCC’s cabinet member for community services, said: “We carried out a six-week consultation which produced nearly 1,200 responses.
“More than 100 of those were from district and parish councils and the vast majority praised the wardens, either as individuals or as a service, and were keen to see it retained.
“We were already aware of the important role that our wardens play in the areas they serve, but this consultation has brought home to us how valued they are by those communities.
“We have listened and paid attention to public opinion, and I am recommending the correct course of action is to maintain the status quo.
“I received an indication of support from my cabinet colleagues at a meeting last month, since when we have been working on some operational issues which have now been resolved.
“Although we will be keeping all the present uniformed wardens, we will achieve some savings by a reduction in back-office staff and by closing three area offices.
“We will also need to make some minor reorganisation to the warden service, because there is an imbalance in the provision across certain parts of the county.”
Michelle and Dave have set up community cafes to give lonely residents a place to meet and make friends; they patrol the streets, visiting pensioners who live alone and checking on people who have been victims of crime; and visit schools to talk about road safety, and alcohol awareness to the older children.