THE new chair of Darlington’s Neighbourhood Watch scheme says she hopes to continue the good work started by the committee’s former award-winning chairman.

Jim Allen took over the running of the town’s flagging Neighbourhood Watch scheme in June 2011, and since then membership has more than doubled with more than 11,540 households signed up.

However, Mr Allen, who won several awards for his efforts, resigned in October last year.

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His successor, 69-year-old Sandra Phipps, said she hopes to continue the good work started by Mr Allen.

“I hope we can carry on the legacy left by Jim Allen as what he did was amazing,” she said.

“The Darlington Neighbourhood Watch is the best in the country - I have some very big shoes to fill.”

Originally from South-East London, Mrs Phipps moved to Darlington in September last year after volunteering with the Metropolitan Police for more than eight years.

“I have always volunteered and have always been interested in the community as you only get out of life what you put in,” she said.

“I can’t sit back and see people hurt or affected by crime, and that is what Neighbourhood Watch is very good at, as it tackles crime and anti-social behaviour.”

The committee aims to have 50 per cent of households in Darlington signed up to Neighbourhood Watch by the end of 2016.

Mrs Phipps will be helped by new vice chair, Cassie Wilson, secretary Viv Evans and treasurer, Peter Allan.

Anyone wanting to join the scheme can call 01325-346802 or attend the next meeting on Thursday, February 20, 6.30pm at St Cuthbert’s Church Hall, in Darlington, where chairman of Neighbourhood Watch, Jim Madden, will be giving a talk.