Park patrol is a great idea – but what about our beaches?

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But they are a precious part of Island life that need protecting and preserving and they should be there to be enjoyed by all.

I drank my first proper alcohol in a park, tried my first cigarette (sorry dad for both), and fondly remember the nights that the late vingtenier Mitch Couriard would arrive up ‘The Mount’ in his van, sending young people scattering as they rushed to hide the two Smirnoff Ice bottles they had managed to sneak out of home.

Such behaviour is simply part of growing up, and the parks in which it often occurs are important locations in which to do it.

After all, without them where would our young people hang out?

This week Tony Andrews, director of parks and open spaces for St Helier, said that parks in the parish had become cleaner and safer thanks to the addition of two dedicated wardens, who have been in place for the past four months.

The duo, one of whom is an honorary police officer, have been put in place at a cost of £67,000. They patrol all of the parish’s parks, including the playground at La Collette, Parade Gardens, the Millennium Town Park, Millbrook and First Tower.

They have been making themselves known to the drinkers who frequent Parade Gardens, have been consulting with dog owners and targeting those who let their animals run off the lead or foul the area, and they have been assisting the honorary police when needed.

Just days after Treasury Minister Alan Maclean – the politician famously responsible for mistakenly casting the deciding vote in favour of building the Millennium Town Park using £10 million of public money when his ringbinder accidentally hit the voting button in the States – said he would not be seeking re-election, it seems particularly fitting to be talking about our parks.

Now, there’s a fine balance between having such wardens in place and going over the top with rules, regulations and monitoring.

But there is most definitely a place for such wardens, and on an Island-wide scale too, if it is done correctly.

During a recent visit to the play park at Parade Gardens with my toddler, for example, I came across numerous discarded tablets, out of their packs lying on the floor next to the roundabout, plus various pieces of broken glass.

With wardens in place such incidents will be reduced, although that is not to say they won’t happen altogether, but they will be tidied up and dealt with.

And while we do need the wardens themselves – who often wear body cameras during their patrols – to be creating good relationships with park users and earning their respect, they also need to maintain a sense of authority.

Because just like Mitch when he arrived to check on us as teenagers on a Friday night, they are doing an important job in keeping everyone safe and in protecting the valuable assets that are our parks.

We are lucky in Jersey, however, that we don’t just have to rely on the parks as our sole form of outside public space – we have our beaches too.

And they too desperately need to be watched over by wardens as well.

The public do a good job of keeping an eye out, as do beach lifeguards when they are there. But there’s a need for year-round monitoring of the Island’s beaches, if only to help reduce dog mess and rubbish and ensure bins are emptied regularly.

Perhaps beach wardens could also be responsible for monitoring the floral tributes that are often left on memorial benches and which the Infrastructure Department say have ‘got out of control’?

The introduction of such roles, including at parks around the Island, would also help to reduce workload pressure on the honorary police. Some parishes struggle to recruit for its volunteer force, members of which already give up enough of their time for free.

And if they don’t end up doing anything beyond chatting to a few people, picking up the odd bit of litter and encouraging more people to clean up after their pets for fear of being fined if they don’t, then it would be money well spent.

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