HC Deb 19 November 2003 vol 413 cc758-9
3. Ms Candy Atherton (Falmouth and Camborne)

If he will make a statement on the work of neighbourhood wardens. [139309]

The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. John Prescott)

Neighbourhood wardens can play a vital role in the revitalisation of some of our most challenging neighbourhoods. Neighbourhood renewal funding is supporting some 500 warden schemes across the country, and other forms of funding have provided up to 3,000 wardens. That is why I announced on 14 August the extension of funding to all street warden schemes for one extra year. Wardens have been welcomed by the communities in which they work. They are successful and they have proven to be effective in reducing crime and improving community safety and the local environment.

Ms Atherton

I thank my right hon. Friend. He is a good friend of Cornwall and a regular visitor. When he next comes to Cornwall, will he visit and congratulate the Redruth street wardens, who have recently received national acclaim, and perhaps bring some more money to this incredibly popular scheme?

The Deputy Prime Minister

I am grateful for my hon. Friend's remarks. I certainly enjoy visiting Cornwall on my regional visits from time to time. I am pleased that, in her constituency, the North Kerrier warden scheme received an award for its work that was presented by my hon. Friend. Last night, I attended the British Urban Regeneration Association—BURA—awards, at which the Falmouth Beacon regeneration partnership was given the sustainability award. The House will be interested to know that a community getting together was able to reduce house burglaries by 40 per cent., reduce accidents involving children by 50 per cent., reduce asthma and chest complaints, improve education results and achieve a £180,000 fuel saving from energy efficiency. It shows that when members of a community get together, they can make a real difference.

Angela Watkinson (Upminster)

The London borough of Havering has a highly successful neighbourhood wardens scheme, which is coming to the end of its third year. I believe that I just heard the Deputy Prime Minister say that an additional year's funding has been allowed. When the Government funding comes to an end, hard-pressed councils such as Havering have the choice of putting up the council tax or withdrawing the service. What would the Deputy Prime Minister advise them to do?

The Deputy Prime Minister

The hon. Lady posed a fair question. On 14 August we decided to extend the programme by one year. The programme arose from the social exclusion unit's recommendation and was to be temporary, for one year. It has been so successful that we have extended it, but the intention is to feed it into mainstream departmental expenditure. So far, 60 per cent. of councils have achieved that, and we are negotiating with the rest. It is a successful scheme and we shall do all we can to make sure that the funding is continued.

Rob Marris (Wolverhampton, South-West)

Will my right hon. Friend join me in congratulating Jess Pickard and his neighbourhood warden team in my constituency on contributing to a very creditable drop in crime and antisocial behaviour and in hoping that that valuable work will continue?

The Deputy Prime Minister

Yes. I can guarantee that the work will continue. My hon. Friend has shown that wardens in his area have made a real difference. Without giving all the figures again, I can report that in one area burglary was reduced by 90 per cent. That is a result of the ordinary community getting together and doing something itself. The programme has turned out to be extremely successful, and my hon. Friend can be assured that I shall do everything to see that it is maintained.