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Relief at U-turn on cuts to community wardens

Community warden Dave Neame operates a speed watch in Herne Bay with volunteers Sandra Marvin and Trevor Turner; right, Cllr Carol Davis
Community warden Dave Neame operates a speed watch in Herne Bay with volunteers Sandra Marvin and Trevor Turner; right, Cllr Carol Davis

Community wardens in Herne Bay have been saved from the chop after a U-turn by county councillors. Kent County Council had launchnd a six-week public consultation asking for people’s views on possible plans to axe 24 of the county’s 70 wardens. The proposals were put forward because the council wanted to save £1.28 million each year towards the estimated £330 million cuts from its budgets over the next three. But, after a wave of public opposition and 1,200 responses, county councillors have announced they will aim to keep all the wardens. KCC’s cabinet member for community services, Mike Hill (Con), said:

“The vast majority of responses praised the wardens, either as individuals or as a service, and most were keen to see it retained. We wercaiready awareof 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.”

But Cllr Hill did warn that savings might be made by reducing back.offiee staff and by closing three area offices. He added:

“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. But the main impact of my decision is that we have heeded public opinion. Assuming my recommendation is ratified by the full cabinet early in January, this important service should remain at its current level.”

Wardens were introduced 12 years ago to deal with low-level crime and vandalism, work with young people, resolve neighbourhood disputes, stop scammers and generally reassure residents with a uniformed presence on the streets. The plan to keep all 70 wardens has been welcomed by Herne and Broomfield parish councilbr Carol Davis, who took part in the consultation. She said:

“It it excellent news. Our parish wrote in to explain how important both Michelle Weston and the warden from Greenhill, Dave Neame, are. The one thing now is that it will be good as long as wardens are not spending lots of time travelling to meetings at offices a long way away. With the changes to the back-office staff and area offices that remains to be seen.”

Herne Bay Gazette, December 11th 2014

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