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Harrow neighbourhood watch scheme defended after volunteer drop
The council has defended its performance on a neighbourhood watch scheme after it was revealed 200 volunteers left since April.
The Neighbourhood Champions project, launched in 2009, is an effort to form a network of volunteers reporting things like litter, graffiti and fly-tipping to Harrow Council in a bid to fix issues as soon as possible.
There are currently 900 people signed up who can report problems online or by phone, and councillors re-launched the service on Thursday in a bid to sign up a volunteer for every street.
But Conservative leader, Councillor Susan Hall, pointed out that there were 1,100 people signed up to the scheme in April – which was already 400 short of the target.
She said: “Given our administration launched the Neighbourhood Champions scheme I remain enormously passionate about what it can achieve, and so any effort to improve recruitment is therefore welcome.
“Labour had set themselves the target of 1,500 trained champions by the end of 2011/12, which they missed by nearly 400.
“They used to keep track of how many champions they’d trained on a three-monthly basis, but they've now abolished this target and have pushed back the date for having 2,000 champions from March 2012 to April 2013.
“And if they had 1,110 trained champions at the end of 2011/12, why have they only got 900 now? Have 200 others completed training and are just sitting around waiting for deployment to roads, or have 200 quit – or a combination of both?”
The project, which does not impose any formal obligations to those who sign up and is completely voluntary, is jointly run by the council and the Metropolitan Police.
Portfolio holder for community safety, Councillor Phillip O’Dell, said that the “sheer volume” of those signing up meant that there would be a natural fall in people resigning or becoming inactive.
He added: “It would be naïve to believe that the number of people who show interest in being trained or those currently involved will remain Neighborhood Champions forever.”
“We are tremendously proud of the energy and enthusiasm residents have shown in becoming Neighbourhood Champions They are incredibly valued and recruitment has gone from strength-to-strength over the past twelve months.
“We have set ourselves the most ambitious targets for the number of people we would like to get involved and have become a victim of our own success having recruited a total of 1,200 Neighbourhood Champions since it was launched in 2009.
“We boast one the biggest volunteering service out of all London councils – yet we are doing even more to drive recruitment and have launched a new campaign just this week.”