I am sure members will agree that Kent's community wardens provide a valuable service, preventing low level crime in local communities. In reducing warden numbers from 79 to 40 across the county as outlined in the public consultation, there is a real risk that the scheme will become inadequate, local crime will increase and long term viability of community wardens called into question.
Beyond the consultation, can the cabinet member for communities explain how he will ensure that the quality of this service will remain fit for purpose, and how he will prevent residents, businesses and the county from bearing a cost greater than the savings made?
I thank Mr Clark for his praise and understanding of the value of the wardens which I fully endorse and it is with regret that we are having to propose a reduction in this highly successful service. But I recognise the realities of life and the enormous savings the authority is required to make and I accept that the warden service must play its part in achieving these savings. However I am absolutely determined that we will retain a robust and efficient service, even though there will be some reduction in the numbers.
Officers are working very closely with our Police colleagues to ensure that the high quality of the service is maintained and interlinked with the neighbourhood policing model.
Wardens will maintain a connection with the areas and localities they currently serve and will be tasked and coordinated via the local community safety unit to respond to any other appropriate issues across the District on a daily basis.
We are considering establishing a cadre of volunteer wardens across the county based upon the special police constable model. This I hope will provide an additional presence on the ground.