CRITICS fear communities could be put at risk following changes to the way staff who protect them operate.
Portsmouth City Council has a team of 17 community wardens responsible for a number of issues affecting residents.
Links with the local community will be destroyed unless the wardens are brought back.Paulsgrove Ukip councillor Stuart Potter
They lock up parks and graveyards, identify drug dealers, report fly-tipping and work to reduce crime.
The teams – who work under the council’s Green and Clean service – previously operated out of offices across the city close to their patch.
But now the council has sent them all to the Civic Offices in the middle of the city as part of a ‘redesign’ of the service – and a review is under way into whether jobs should go.
Now if residents have problems, they have to call the council’s city helpdesk before a decision is made whether to send workers out.
Paulsgrove Ukip councillor Stuart Potter is concerned about how long it will for teams to reach his residents.
He said: ‘Links with the local community will be destroyed unless the wardens are brought back.’
Lib Dem councillor Hugh Mason says there’s been no consultation.
He said: ‘Wardens are the eyes and ears of the community. Yet again decisions are being made by Conservative councillors in secret and local residents are being kept in the dark.’
But Tory environment and community safety boss Rob New accused the Lib Dems of hypocrisy as he said plans to cut warden costs were proposed in their 2013 budget.
Green and Clean service manager Colette Hill said: ‘There is currently a review of the community warden service, along with environmental enforcement and estate services, under way.
‘The review is aimed at maximising the efficiency of the services and delivering better outcomes for the city.
‘This review in ongoing and currently in a redesign phase where we are experimenting with how we best manage and organise the work.
‘The teams are located centrally as part of this redesign. They are also carrying out targeted patrols in areas where we have ongoing issues.
‘This way of working has led to the teams being more responsive, and carrying out more work.’