Basildon's park wardens could be scrapped this summer

Lake Meadows park

Article by Toby Emes: Park wardens could be scrapped and replaced with street patrol officers instead as part of a review into the £35,000-a-month scheme.

Basildon Council is set to extend the park warden trial until September to give officials enough time out of lockdown to “prove their worth”.

Bosses will carry out a review into the project, set to expire in July, to establish whether the park wardens are offering enough “value for money.”

Officers will also investigate whether it’s viable to introduce wardens on Basildon’s streets instead of the park team, or alongside them.

 Andrew Baggott, Tory leader of the council, said:

“It’s just working out if we’re getting our money’s worth of the scheme. The park wardens do some great work, but we need to see if it’s not costing the taxpayer too much for what we’re getting. They will come back with evidence in September.”

Figures show the team of wardens patrolled parks for a huge 4,368 hours, with more than 1,200 enquiries and tip offs received from the public - 225 of these involved antisocial behaviour.

Mike Andrews, vice-chair of the Billericay Residents’ Association, added:

“The park warden team certainly aren’t visible in Billericay. We need to see them before making judgement on whether to keep them. We already have the street pastors here, but anything to deter people would be appreciated. The high street has no problems in the day, but has seen some issues in the evening. There was a bottling incident recently. People would be reassured by there presence on the streets.”

The move to extend the trial until September - which could see it scrapped or extended further - will be formalised next week.

In a report to councillors, a Basildon Council officer said:

“The use of the parks has fluctuated significantly during the trial as expected. School holidays and good weather conditions has increased the number of users in the park. The current arrangement concludes at the end of July 2021.”

Article by Toby Emes, The Echo