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Agenda item

Public consultation in relation to the Kent Community Warden Scheme


The Cabinet Member for Housing and Health introduced the report, stating that Kent County Council (KCC) were consulting on proposed changes to the Kent Community Warden (KCW) Service, to save £1 million by 2024/25. The proposal aimed to retain the wide remit, objectives and community based approach of the service, with a change in how the wardens were allocated across the County, with 32 fewer posts, and 2 less management posts.


The Cabinet Member stated that the proposal would likely cause a reduction in the wardens operating within the borough, with the service shared with the other Kent Local Authorities. There was concern on how the proposed changes would impact the support provided to residents that were vulnerable, isolated or had complex needs. The Wardens played a key role in building relationships with and providing support to local communities, with the reduction in service likely to place increased pressure on other bodies or organisation, such as the Community Sector and Kent Police, particularly with the withdrawal of Police Community Support Officers.


The Housing, Health and Environment Policy Advisory Committee’s consideration of the matter was outlined. 


During the discussion, the Committee strongly emphasised the following points, including: that other services such as those provided by the Council, Social Services, Kent Police and the NHS, would be directly impacted through increased pressures and costs arising from the proposals, and that this would outweigh the financial savings achieved through the proposals; that the demands for the KCW service would not be able to be met, and that staff could be lost through redundancy or resignation due to the service changes; that the service provided support to, and had a positive impact on, vulnerable individuals, families, children and young adults, particularly in diverting those who might otherwise fall into criminal activity, and the service had already been affected by previous service changes and the increased likelihood of anti-social behaviour.


In response to the comments made, the Cabinet Member expressed support for strengthening the sentiments expressed in the responses, and that the questions’ wording made it difficult to disagree with the proposals. The role of the KCW service in preventing issues from becoming more significant in the future was noted, with concern expressed that the proposed service changes would not work efficiently, leaving the Wardens frustrated and the pride in their work affected. Consideration had not been given to funding the service directly. It was noted that some parts of the borough did not have a KCW currently. The link to respond to the Youth Services Review would be circulated to the Committee.


In response to questions, the Community and Strategic Partnerships Manager stated that the KCW service supported his team and their work, were able to build relationships with the community in a way that other services were unable to and that a reduction in the service would be a loss. The Council, KCWs and Kent Police were encouraged to use the ‘connect before correct’ model to support relationship building with young adults. 


It was further expressed that whilst the draft responses attached at Appendix 2 to the report were supported, these should be strengthened through the addition of a robust covering letter to the responses, a suggestion that KCC explore alternate sources of funding for the service given its importance and for question 7a to be amended to include the service’s role in supporting young adults, particularly in diverting those who might otherwise fall into criminal activity.


RESOLVED to RECOMMEND to the CABINET MEMBER: That the draft responses at Appendix 2 to the report be approved, subject to:


a.  The addition of a robust covering letter;


b.  An amendment to the response to Question 7a, to reflect the specific role that Community Wardens have in supporting young adults; and


c.  A suggestion that KCC proactively secure alternative sources of funding, to maintain or improve the service. 




Supporting documents: