South Tyneside could lose its community wardens under budget cut plans

Council bosses are looking to scrap community wardens as they look to save cash in the face of budget cuts.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 19th January 2019, 8:00 am
Updated Saturday, 19th January 2019, 8:29 am
Coun Jeff Milburn
Coun Jeff Milburn

The workers - who work alongside police to combat anti-social behaviour on the streets of South Tyneside - are under threat as the council looks to balance its budget over the next year.

Council bosses say no final decision has been made yet but opposition councillor, Coun Jeff Milburn, has called on them to think again.

The Cleadon and East Boldon councillor said; “Community wardens do play a vital role and are an essential part of the community safety family.

“They are an extra pair of eyes and ears for the police and can be witnesses to anti-socal behaviour and provide statements.

“I fully support the community wardens and I think it would be a crime to get rid of them.”

Thdere are understood to be fewer than 10 jobs at risk but it is one of the measures councillors will be asked to look at as part of proposals put forward next month as they look at the budget.

It is not the first time the role has come under the scrutiny.

In 2007, the future of the service was looked at by the council’s neighbourhood services scrutiny committee.

It found one of the main issues was perception and that most people were not aware of what they did.

Over the years the community wardens have been involved in a number of campaigns tackling anti-social behaviour and have played a part in helping the council secure convictions against nuisance tenants.

One resident, who has sought the help of the community wardens in the past said: “They do, do a good job and it’ll be a shame to see them go.

“But I suppose with all the cuts going on, I don’t think any service or anyone is safe anymore.”

A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: “We would like to stress that no decisions have been made as yet.

“However it is important to highlight that the council has already lost almost 40% of its real spending power over the last nine years and is in the top three councils worst hit by austerity measures.

“In South Tyneside, we have managed this with minimal reduction in frontline services.

“However, with further austerity measures imposed on us, we have to look again at all of the services that we provide.

“This could be anything from reducing, stopping, or reviewing the way we deliver services, to asking people to pay more, in order for us to continue protecting the services for those who need them the most.

“Regrettably, nothing is off the table, including the Community Wardens service, and this will involve making some very difficult choices.

“Any proposals will be considered as part of the budget next month.”