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Stranraer Set for Community Wardens by Spring

COMMUNITY wardens could be patrolling the streets of Stranraer by April if a council scheme gets the go-ahead.

The town's Dick's Hill and Belmont areas are set to benefit from the plan, which is being paid for by the Scottish Executive.

At a meeting last week, community representatives heard how similar schemes were already up and running in other parts of the UK.

"With their high-visibility uniforms, the wardens would take an interest in issues like crime prevention," a council spokesman told the Free Press.

"Studies have shown that crime has fallen by up to 50 per cent in other areas where community wardens patrol.

"Their role would be to - note and report - and they would look at, for example, vandalism, graffiti, abandoned cars or litter and dumped rubbish.

"But they are not replacement police officers and have no powers of arrest.

"Instead, wardens work with the relevant authorities, such as the council and police, to help make communities a safer place to live in."

Wardens would work on three main subject areas: environmental matters, such as litter and disposal of harmful objects like syringes; crime prevention and social integration.

The latter area has even seen them mediate between feuding neighbours in other areas of the country.

Council officials will make a final submission on the scheme to the Scottish Executive on 30th November. If successful, funding of £150,000 spread over two years will be granted.

It is thought this would pay for a team of wardens in Stranraer comprising one full-time and four-part time members of staff.

A section of north west Dumfries is also likely to get a similar amount of funding for its community warden scheme. Other councils in Scotland who already operate wardens include Renfrewshire and South Lanarkshire.

The Dumfries and Galloway council spokesman added:

"Our final bid goes in at the end of November and we could see wardens in Stranraer by April.

"Executive funding is in place, if all goes to plan, for a two-year scheme. What would happen after the two years is up has not yet been decided."

The added that the public's opinions were still very much sought after and final details of how the scheme would operate were not yet decided.

"The wardens would know what to do about a particular problem - or where to point people if an issue is outwith their sphere of knowledge, they said.

"This could be a very beneficial project for the town.

"If all goes to plan we would be looking to recruit fairly soon and we will take a great deal of care over selection of candidates and training."

Anyone wishing to register their opinion on the scheme can call the council's community planning officers on (01776) 888317.

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