Wardens celebrate decade of service in village

THE NEIGHBOURHOOD Wardens of Ashington are celebrating their tenth anniversary.

Working with Horsham District Council and the Horsham District Community Safety Partnership, Ashington Parish Council was the first in the District and one of the first in the country to introduce a Neighbourhood Warden scheme.

Shortly after the inception of the scheme, crime figures started to drop and after just two years the scheme proved it’s worth and soon more Neighbourhood Wardens were employed more widely across England and Wales.

As an integral part of Horsham District Council’s Community Safety Unit, the wardens are now firmly established and provide a visible reassuring presence in the Ashington community.

The wardens work with different people and community groups to promote social inclusion as well as tackle anti-social behaviour and improve access to local services.

Local people are proud of the scheme, voting in its support at all three reviews since it started.

One elderly lady said the scheme was “worth every penny” as she had the wardens checking her emergency call out device.

One aspiring Ashington Cougars player said: “It’s thanks to them I got involved in playing football for a team.”

A young man remembers driving his car through Ashington and being influenced by wardens in the village.

He said: “They made me stop and think about what I was doing with my life, taking drugs and drinking.

“It was not easy, but I don’t do that any more.”

Nev Clark, the Village Youth Club Chairman said: “I love the way they balance being ‘official’ with being people to trust without fear for young and old, no matter what the emergency.”

Greg Charman, Community Safety Manager for the Horsham District Community Safety Partnership, spoke about the success of the scheme.

He said: “I am delighted to see the Ashington Warden Scheme mark an impressive 10-year anniversary.

“When first introduced, the scheme was one of the first in the country and we could never have imagined that it would be so successful.

“There have been a number of wardens employed to work in Ashington over the years, all with different skills and styles, but ultimately they all shared a common outlook – the importance attached to promoting a sense of community, which for me is why the scheme thrives.”

Neighbourhood Wardens are not a replacement for the police but are accredited by them under the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme, which allows them to use certain police type powers, which includes seizing alcohol from under 18s and demanding the name and address of those behaving in an anti-social manner.

A second Neighbourhood Warden scheme covers Steyning, Bramber and Upper Beeding in the Horsham District.

Together both schemes have been awarded the Warden Charter by the London Training and Resource Centre for the second year running following independent assessment. The charter represents a commitment to serving the community.

For more information about the Ashington Neighbourhood Wardens, visit the Horsham District Council website (www.horsham.gov.uk) call 01903 891543 or email ashington.warden@horsham.gov.uk