Fears over public safety as council decides to stop locking up parks in Portsmouth

Wimbledon Park in Southsea
Wimbledon Park in Southsea
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FEARS have been raised over public safety after it emerged parks in Portsmouth are no longer being locked up at night.

Portsmouth Lib Dems say community wardens are not bolting gates across the city after-hours any more due to changes in the way they work.

For a long time we have had problems of anti social behaviour in the park, and leaving it unlocked all night will only make things worse.

Lib Dem councillor Hugh Mason

It comes after the council decided to move all 17 of its wardens into the civic offices as opposed to being out on their patch.

Lib Dems Matthew Winnington and Hugh Mason are particularly concerned about Wimbledon Park in Southsea.

Cllr Mason said: ‘For a long time we have had problems of anti-social behaviour in the park, and leaving it unlocked all night will only make things worse.’

Cllr Winnington said: ‘When the Lib Dems ran the city council, there was a task force set up with the police to crack down on trouble coming from some of the houses in Waverley Road.

‘Now the parks are being left open all night, there have been reports about needles being found in places where children want to play. This is not good enough, and the secrecy from Conservative councillors about this decision is terrible.’

Tory environment and community safety boss Rob New argued the wardens service has been improved and a clean cities team has been formed tackling litter, dog fouling, fly-tipping and anti-social behaviour.

An app for smart phones is to be installed to enable people to report incidents to wardens.

Lib Dem leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson is to challenge Cllr New about the future of the wardens at a meeting of the full council next Tuesday.

The changes to the warden’s work are part of a redesign of the service with the aim of saving money. If residents now have problems, they have to call the council’s help desk.

Campaigners are unhappy there was no consultation with residents – though the Tories say that already happened when the Lib Dems ran the council and proposed changes to the service.

Cllr New said: ‘We are trialling not locking up parks in some places.

‘It may not be a good use of the wardens’ time opening and locking them up. We want them to work better and smarter.’

List of parks no longer being locked up

HERE is a list obtained by Lib Dems from council officers of the areas where parks are no longer being locked up at night:

Britannia Road, Wimbledon Park, Prince Albert Road, Claremont Road, Milton Park, Kingston Park, Arundel Street, East Lodge Recreation Ground, Gatcombe Park and Knowsley Road, College Park and Cosham Park.