Fears of a rise in anti-social activity should project stop

Council urged to retain Holyland warden scheme

By Stephen McVey

RESIDENTS of the Holyland have appealed to Belfast City Council not to scrap the Community Safety Warden scheme in the area. Discussions on the future of the operation are taking place in City Hall with councillors mulling over a number of options on the wardens who currently operate in a number of areas across Belfast.

However, it is in South Belfast’s university area where the wardens have the highest profile as they attempt to tackle high levels of anti-social behaviour among students living in the Holyland enclave.

Although first introduced to the Holyland in 2006, the Community Safety Warden service was officially established in 2009 as part of a three-year scheme. With funding ending for the wardens in the autumn, the council are discussing the scheme’s future and, if indeed, it has one. Doubts about the continuation of the scheme are high after a “value for money” analysis by council staff found the overall service was “not achieving all of its intended aims”, and that if any future service is to be operated in parts of the city, the current warden scheme as it stands would have to be scrapped.

Yet, long-term residents in the Holyland who welcomed the presence of the wardens, are concerned that should the scheme be scrapped, levels of anti-social behaviour, which still cause problems for locals, could rise even further.

Resident Ray Farley said: “As far as the Holyland goes, the wardens are an effective tool in tackling the anti-social behaviour which plagues the area. It could be that they aren’t as effective in other parts of the city, but that doesn’t mean that some sort of warden presence shouldn’t be maintained here. I’d fear that if they just disappeared, then we could see a rise in bad behaviour among the people who have been kept in line by the wardens’ activity. The police do an excellent job, but the wardens had the time to deal with the specific issues here, and it really helped. I would urge the council to retain their services.”

A debate on the service will take place at the council’s health and environmental services committee in August, and a council spokesperson said no comment would be made before then.

 

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