New Westminster wardens will have to leg it if things get sticky

On the 1st October Westminster City Council will officially launch their new private police force. The new private police which are to be called Wardens will be replacing the City Guardians and City Inspectors, who acted as eyes an ears for the Council. The 70 strong street team of wardens are made up of 42 ordinary wardens, 20 local wardens (ward based) with 8 senior wardens. One Westminster ward (Bryanston & Dorset Sq) did not agree with the councils allocation of just one street warden. They have invested in an additional warden, who can expect to receive a salary in excess of £30,000 per year with 30 days annual leave.

The Council have said that because of the reorganisation it will mean there will be 66 fewer operational staff on the streets which is a 48% reduction in street staff. This could lead to a saving of £2.150 million by 2012.

The new wardens have been given full enforcement powers, which means amongst other things, they will be issuing fines, which should help towards that £2.150 million saving. Previously only the defunct 50 City Inspectors had enforcement powers, which is an increase of 20 more officials on Westminster Streets with the ability to issue fines. However in the Council City Management and Transport Policy and Scrutiny Committee documentation it states that the Wardens will be focused on safe clean streets rather than enforcement and revenue generation.

In the Wardens job description it says part of the Wardens duties are “To undertake inspections, investigations, intelligence and evidence gathering, enquiries,

education, persuasion and advice to the local community as is necessary …‘intelligence and evidence gathering’ is mentioned twice in the Wardens job description.

In a Council meeting last week, Councillor Bush raised concerns for the safety of the wardens, as her understanding was that their priority is to be enforcement. There has been a rise in Westminster of street gang culture, so we did wonder what a warden would do when confronted with a gang of knife bearing hoodies at night.

But Cllr Ed Argar, who has the councils portfolio covering the street warden introduction  had the answer to Cllr Bush’s concerns, suggesting that the wardens can always just walk away. We thought he might say the wardens should hug the hoodies, as the result might be the same.

Cllr Bush also doubted that the Wardens would have success in gaining the trust of locals, if the emphasis is on enforcement, intelligence and evidence gathering.

Cllr Bradley also said something at the meeting, but as he often forgets to turn on his microphone, only a few people heard his pearls of wisdom.

Cllr Frixos Tombolis was also in attendance, but could not contribute to the warden discussion, as a tasty buffet had been provided by the council, this proved too much of a temptation for him.

Nutsville are concerned that as Westminster Council are desperate to introduce new revenue streams, the wardens will be used to bring in the money. This opinion is partly backed up by a post we will write next week coming from the parking department and the councils love affair with its out sourced enforcement provider, NSL services.

Booklets are being delivered to Westminster residents to drum up some enthusiasm for Barrow’s army of volunteer’s idea. Nutsville was intrigued to read that Westminster are recruiting a uniformed youth corp.

We can foresee there may be a lot of disappointed power hungry yoofs, if the blue eyed blond recruitment rule is enforced with too much rigour.

Still, if you can prove your ancestry and you get on with old Popes you’re bound to get in Barrows new army. (view article here)

Westminster Council have produced a video to help sell the idea of having more surveillance on the streets, but using the key words of ‘Westminster warden’ this video came up first.

We have since located the real video produced by the council. It’s sad that the wardens job description does not require good spoken English, as we think the sub titles are needed.

Download Westminster Committee Agenda on wardens here.


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1 Comment

MrCSeptember 28th, 2010 at 3:41 pm

God help us they have found another way to put businesses out of business in Westminster by fining them for every little minor insignificant transgression of WCC rules. How many businesses will have to go to court or whatever WCC comes up with to try to prove that the “A board” outside their shop is on privet land.

Meanwhile WCC find new ways to brake the law, all in the name of money.

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