‘Find funds to save our safety wardens’

With disappointment still running high over the decision to withdraw financial support for the Community Safety Wardens, Banbridge councillors are committed to finding a way to save them.

While calls have been reiterated for the Department of Justice to review it’s decision, investigations into finding other ways to retain the scheme are also beginning.

With the feeling that the DOJ has already made its decision on the matter, Councillor Brendan Curran said it’s now time for the Council to be investigating alternative methods of funding to ensure such a valuable service is retained.

“The funding will be found in one way or another. This is an invaluable service which we cannot afford to loose”, said Councillor Curran.

Also in agreement, Councillor John Hanna said: “We are trying to keep political pressure on the DOJ over this issue. After the scheme has been successfully established and proven to be a great success, the decision to withdraw funding is illogical and nonsensical.

“We will however find the £20,000 from somewhere if we have to, but really why should Banbridge residents have to pay the extra to fund this service.

“It seems peanuts out of the DOJ’s budget. It is so little money to them, but yet such a benefit to everybody in the community from young people to senior citizens who feel safer because of it. We need to keep the pressure up”.

Jonathan Murphy, Vice-Chair of Banbridge District Policing and Community Safety Partnership, also voiced his concerns: “The Community Safety Wardens are an invaluable resource; local people appreciate their hard work and want to see them retained.

“We seen earlier this week residents in Belfast arguing the same thing, and they cited police statistics that show the amount of crime and anti- social behaviour have soared since the decision to remove funding for the wardens in Belfast. Furthermore, the experience of Belfast shows that people of all ages, older residents and students alike, feel much safer in their communities and homes when a Wardens scheme like our own is running.

“The incident on the Rathfriland Road last Saturday involving seven young men shows that with a night time economy like the one we have, we need wardens in the area.

“I’m calling on the Department to look again at its figures to see if it can find the money. £20,000 is not a lot of money for the DOJ, but its worth a lot to local people who are made safer, and who feel safer, by the three community safety wardens”.