Good neighbour quits post in protest

AN AWARD-winning neighbourhood watch co-ordinator is quitting his top job in Suffolk in protest at the Government's growing regionalisation of the voluntary service.

AN AWARD-winning neighbourhood watch co-ordinator is quitting his top job in Suffolk in protest at the Government's growing regionalisation of the voluntary service.

Andrew Garrard, of Melbourne Road, Ipswich, is resigning as chairman of the Suffolk Neighbourhood Watch Association (SNWA) at the next annual general meeting.

He says his decision is partly influenced by the Government's drive to bring in a new regional tier for the organisation but Mr Garrard, who has been involved in neighbourhood watch for 13 years, will remain as co-ordinator for the Australia estate in Ipswich.

''They want to get Suffolk, Essex, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire all united and that is not something that personally I am interested in. I spend 40 hours unpaid a week for the organisation and that will go up if this happens.


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''It will become more bureaucratic with more administration, costs, indemnity insurance and public liability insurance,'' said Mr Garrard.

He added that a regionalised neighbourhood watch would put pressure on all groups to become involved in projects even if they did not want to take part.

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Mr Garrard and his vice chairman Brian Finch recently won an award for the development of neighbourhood watch in Suffolk and the Data Link scheme which keeps a householder's vital health information on a bottle in the fridge.

But the National Neighbourhood Watch Association (NNWA) has defended the proposals which are being worked up by the Government and the NNWA.

Martin Burrekoven-Kalve, of the NNWA, said it was acknowledged there were some critics.

He said: ''There is a strength in having a regional voice and influencing regional policy. We do support it and we feel it is necessary and inevitable that regionalisation is coming through and we do not want to be left behind.

''We are trying to encourage various associations in the region to get together. If regional government does come in, then it makes sense that community safety and people in the neighbourhood watch movement have a voice.''

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