Bath Voice News: tidying up the streets with the new community wardens

Cllr Shaun Stephenson-McGall, Oldfield Park Ward, with Student Community Partnership (SCP) Community Warden, Tom McGarth, on Third Avenue door knocking in the summer during the ‘Moving Out’ campaign

Tidying up the streets with the new community wardens

By Harry Mottram. Expect a knock the door in Oldfield Park if you’ve left your recycling bins unfilled and your trash littering the pavement outside.
It’s not the police and it’s not the local residents’ association but something new that is likely to be repeated across the city in the years to come. Meet the new Community Wardens.
Well, Community Warden as there’s only one at the moment – but as the man behind the scheme Cllr Shaun Stephenson-McGall said – it’s a start.
“Tom McGraff is the first Community Warden to work the patch,” he said, “and he has routes around Oldfield Park to work with the residents and also the university to improve things especially where there are concerns about litter, a lack of recycling and some of the issues associated with Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs).”
To use the modern parlance the wardens ‘will act as ambassadors for the council and the universities across the whole of the city but especially where there are greater numbers of students in the local community.’
The idea is to build communication links and being on hand to support all residents if issues arise will be important elements of the role.
One of the gripes of residents in most areas of Bath is the increase in HMOs over the years as the student population has swelled along with a rising demand for accommodation in general amongst the population.
Essentially traditional family homes are bought up by developers and builders and then converted into shared accommodation for up to six or so couples or single people.
The result is often more cars requiring parking space in residential roads and complaints about untidy front gardens as recycling is ignored and rubbish dumped – along with anti-social behaviour such as loud music.
“Tom used to be a student,” said the ward councillor, “he works full-time and is there to resolve problems like bins and clutter left on pavements impeding wheelchair users and those with impaired vision.”
Working with the University, the council and the recycling teams the warden can give advice to residents on recycling and what to do with unwanted furniture and everyday objects when tenants move out – sometimes leaving the items in the garden.
Tom can contact charities such as the British Heart Foundation who may be able to make use of excess furniture or recycling teams who can process the items.
And with leaflets in hand he has been knocking on doors and chatting to residents about issues raised in the area and trying his best to sort them out convivially. He has no legal powers but does have the backing of the council and many residents seeking improvements to their streets.
To fund the pilot scheme Cllr Shaun Stephenson-McGall pressed for a budget of £100,000 over three years to employ two part-time or one full-time warden from September last year.

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