Problem estates to have 'super wardens'

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The Independent Online
BRITAIN'S TOUGHEST council estates are to be patrolled by "super- caretakers" and neighbourhood wardens under government plans to be announced next month.

The town hall employees will aim to cut crime and improve the lifestyles of people living in the country's poorest areas.

The initiative is contained in a 60-page report commissioned by the Prime Minister, which seeks to avoid the "old solution" of throwing money at social problems.

Neighbourhood wardens will live on the estates, mounting regular patrols. Super-caretakers will have all the usual responsibilities for buildings, with the additional duty of looking after the residents.

The idea was taken from the Broadwater Farm estate in Tottenham, North London, where housing managers believe there has been a "fantastic" change in social conditions since the early 1980s, when the area was the scene of vicious riots.

Neighbourhood wardens are already employed on the Town Hill North estate in Swansea, where officials say they have reduced vandalism by 80 per cent, saving pounds 104,000 in damage repairs. Swansea Borough Council also estimates it has cut car theft by half, reduced calls relating to nuisances such as loud music by three-quarters and foiled 17 burglary attempts. The area was top of Swansea's "crime league"; now it is fourth, said a Downing Street source.

The Swansea wardens have also cut the number of empty flats from 47 to 27 by bypassing council red tape. A similar programme involving 16 "estate rangers" has also made an impact in Newport, South Wales, it was said.

Super-caretakers will undertake repairs and guard buildings from vandalism, but will also alert social services where necessary to ensure that home helps and meals-on-wheels are provided for those who need them.

In Islington, on the Spa Green estate, super-caretakers are said to have halved the maintenance budget in the first year of the scheme's operation.

Local authorities covering 17 estates throughout Britain, earmarked for special treatment by ministers, will be asked to bid for part of the pounds 800 million budget for the 'New Deal for communities' programme.