Kent County Council expands community warden scheme

More community wardens have been hired in Kent, despite challenges competing with higher salaries in London.

Kent County Council (KCC) added 12 new wardens to its ranks during the summer months and they will be deployed into their local areas “very soon” .

One of Kent County Council’s community wardens

Earnings for wardens are between £20,000 to £25,000-a-year in the county, which is lower than London salaries, which can range between £26,000 to just over £29,000, such as in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Cllr Mike Hill (Con), who is KCC’s cabinet member for communities, said: “We have had difficulty for some time recruiting wardens, particularly in the west of the county, where we are competing with London, with its inflated salaries.”

The warden service, run by the county council, has served communities for the last 20 years.

They prevent crime, tackle social isolation and are more visibly present in towns and villages.

Thousands of vulnerable and elderly people have been supported by the frontline officers in recent months, whose team was 70-strong in 2021.

Cllr Mike HillCllr Mike Hill

Cllr Hill announced more wardens have been recruited during KCC’s economic development committee at County Hall, Maidstone, yesterday.

He added: “We now have another 12 recruits, I am very pleased to say.

“This should stop people banging on my door all the time saying ‘where is my community warden’.”

It comes after Kent county councillors, notably the Liberal Democrats, have called for wardens to be retained in the face of cuts to the service in 2021.

Wardens were protected from budget cuts in 2021 as the scope of their work grew to deliver vital medical prescriptions, food parcels and hot and cold meals to vulnerable isolated residents, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“This should stop people banging on my door all the time saying ‘where is my community warden’.”

Community wardens have supported the settlement of Ukrainian refugees, fleeing from the war in Russia, to the county of Kent through the Homes to Ukraine scheme.

More recently, KCC earmarked £1m to expand the warden service and new recruits are being trained.

Cllr Hill said: “I went to see them a couple of weeks ago on their training and I was really impressed with the quality we have managed to attract.”

He added: “I hope we will see them deployed in their areas very soon.”

Liberal Democrat county councillor Mike Sole says he is “encouraged” with the success of appointing new wardens for Kent.

He said: “We have had some gaps in the service and those in place do an excellent job.”

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