War­dens on a mis­sion to tackle anti-so­cial is­sues in com­mu­nity

The Oban Times - - News - MONICA GIB­SON mgib­son@oban­times.co.uk

COM­MU­NITY war­dens are tack­ling anti-so­cial is­sues across Lochaber.

Wil­lie Dun­can and Matthew Poss­ner were ap­pointed as Lochaber’s com­mu­nity war­dens in Septem­ber 2016. While the pair don’t have spe­cific patches, they work 28 hours a week across four days for the High­land Coun­cil, pa­trolling cen­tral and ru­ral ar­eas.

The war­dens are con­cerned with prob­lems in­clud­ing dog foul­ing, un­tidy gar­dens and fly tip­ping. They also help with hous­ing al­lo­ca­tion and re­cently helped in the wel­com­ing of Syr­ian fam­i­lies to Kin­lochleven.

Should the war­dens find a gar­den filled with in­ap­pro­pri­ate items or over­grown grass they will give the house­holder a let­ter telling them to get the place in or­der.

If the sit­u­a­tion hasn’t im­proved af­ter 14 days, a sec­ond let­ter will be sent in­form­ing the res­i­dent the amount the coun­cil will charge to do the work for them. Wil­lie Dun­can told the Loch

aber Times: ‘We have about a 94 to 96 per cent suc­cess rate in places like Caol. Once peo­ple get the sec­ond let­ter, they tend to get the job done.

‘Once we is­sue the first let­ter, the name is logged. Some prob­lems may take longer to fix and we give peo­ple the ben­e­fit of the doubt, but if some­one tells us they are go­ing to fix what­ever prob­lem we have high­lighted on Wed­nes­day, we will be there on the Thurs­day to check.

‘It doesn’t need to come to that though. If peo­ple have white goods they want to get rid of they can con­tact the High­land Coun­cil and get an up­lift for £18.20. There is no need for peo­ple to be sit­ting with fridge freez­ers in their front gar­den. All that does is get the neigh­bours an­gry and cause un­rest in the com­mu­nity.’

Ac­cord­ing to the High­land Coun­cil, the role of the war­dens is to work with the com­mu­nity and other agen­cies to im­prove the safety and se­cu­rity of the area and to pro­vide sup­port, ad­vice and in­for­ma­tion to the com­mu­nity.

It has also taken a proac­tive ap­proach to de­vel­op­ing links with com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tions and as part of Mr Dun­can and Mr Poss­ner ef­forts to tackle fly-tip­ping, they plan to visit schools through­out Lochaber to help en­gage young peo­ple in the im­por­tance of com­mu­nity care.

Mr Dun­can added: ‘A lot of the prob­lem­atic ar­eas co­in­cide with where young­sters walk to and from schools at lunch or at home time. Wher­ever there is un­oc­cu­pied land you start to see lit­ter build­ing up, for ex­am­ple near the Esso garage in Fort Wil­liam. The young­sters might be re­spon­si­ble for some of the mess but a lot of it is not out of bad­ness. We hope to change their mind­set. Maybe if we can get into the schools and talk to the pupils about the cost and the knock- on ef­fects, they might cot­ton on to the mess they are mak­ing.’

Write Im­age. Pho­to­graph: Iain Fer­gu­son, The

Wil­lie Dun­can and Matthew Poss­ner are the com­mu­nity war­dens for Lochaber.

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