District takes lead on street scheme

AN ‘INNOVATIVE’ plan to manage Horsham district’s streets has attracted interest from neighbouring council months before it is launched.

Horsham District Council’s plans to have district wardens carrying out a range of civil enforcement work instead of having teams confined to specific jobs were given the go-ahead by councillors at the council’s personnel committee meeting this month.

Working on a model used in Oxford, the new set-up, which has been developed over the past 18 months, will be in place in April and will save the council £19,804 a year.

Already neighbouring councils have been calling HDC to ask how they could implement it in their areas.

HDC community safety manager Greg Charman and Ben Golds, parking operations manager at HDC, have been working on the new plan.

Mr Charman hopes it will avoid situations where one team cannot deal with a problem just down the road.

He said: “In summer 2010 the council scrutiny and overview committee formed an enforcement working group with the main aim to look at what it could do across all its services areas.

“They looked all civil enforcement - parking enforcement, planning enforcement, litter - and the aim was to see what areas could be brought together.

“We want to improve customer service and visibility and get away from the business of having one team with one role who cannot deal with an issue two metres away.”

During the consultation, they found it would be best to keep parking separate, but all other civil enforcement could be combined into a new district warden team.

Mr Charman said: “Not everybody has district wardens. Most places will have a policing function and there’s probably a handful of areas doing this.

“We are not the first in the country, but it is the first in West Sussex.

“It builds in more flexibility. You have a bunch of officers who can respond to more things more quickly. It just makes sense.”

The plan has drawn interest from across the West Sussex.

Mr Golds said: “We have had enquiries from Crawley and Arun. They all act as agencies for West Sussex County Council for parking.

“It’s at tough times [HDC] can still deliver the services that mean a lot to people. We’re not only delivering services but expanding them.”

Over the next few months, the council will continue to train the remaining staff in other areas of enforcement before the scheme goes live in April.