EXTRA neighbourhood wardens have been appointed following mounting concerns over drug taking, drinking and antisocial behaviour in a North-East city.

There have been growing reports of antisocial behaviour in Durham city centre in recent months, particularly in North Road.

The problem has become so bad an antisocial behaviour conference is being held later this month and Durham County Council has appointed two dedicated wardens.

Wardens Andrew Lonergan and Paul Rutherford will be patrolling the city centre to try and combat crime and antisocial behaviour.

Meanwhile work is ongoing to see how troublemakers can be deterred from meeting in public and the council says it will be monitoring CCTV more closely.

Councillor Lucy Hovvels, the council’s member for community safety, said: “It is important for people to know that Durham is a safe and welcoming city – and that’s the message we want to get across through this initiative.

The Northern Echo:

North Road, Durham, has long been a hot spot for antisocial behaviour in the city

“This isn’t just about warning the small minority of people behaving badly that their actions will not be tolerated. It’s just as much about having a visible presence in the city to reassure businesses, residents and visitors to the city that, along with the police, we are here to help and support them.”

Durham City Neighbourhood Inspector Andrea Arthur said: “We welcome the addition of two dedicated neighbourhood wardens and will continue to work with our partners to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour.

“We would like to reassure members of the community we will continue to have a visible presence in the city in order to meet their needs. Members of our neighbourhood police team have been out on the streets, using the powers at our disposal to address any concerns that have arisen.”

Last month, police and wardens held a week of action to target issues with begging, drinking and drug taking.

It follows videos being posted online of people lying drunk during the day and reports of people openly taking drugs.

Meanwhile more than 1,500 people have signed a petition calling for North Road to be cleaned up and to "make Durham great again".

Warden Nicola Shorten, who was employed as a part time warden by the City of Durham Parish Council during the summer, said up to 26 needles had been recovered from the city centre on a single day.

Adam Deathe, Durham BID manager, said: “Durham BID is extremely grateful to Durham County Council and Durham Constabulary for increasing their efforts in proactively engaging with fellow stakeholders and support organisations in an effort to signpost individuals to appropriate support.

“As Durham BID manager, I am also working with parties to ensure that we find a long-term solution to such a complex matter. I am confident that all parties are committed to the city and to ensuring that all users enjoy what our magnificent city has to offer.”

Cllr Joy Allen, cabinet member for transformation, culture and tourism, said: “Durham is a beautiful city with a rich history and heritage. It draws visitors from around the globe thanks to its international reputation for a vibrant culture, innovation and warm and welcoming residents.

“We are aware, however, that there are currently a small number of individuals who are coming into the city centre and causing a nuisance to those who work, visit and shop here.

“It is extremely important that these people are not able to spoil our wonderful city for everyone else. That’s why we are working closely with the police and other partners to tackle the issues they are causing.”

Anyone who is experiencing problems with anti-social behaviour or other community safety issues, should contact Durham County Council on 03000 260 000 or call the police non-emergency number on 101.

Littering, waste and other environmental issues should be reported to the council online at www.durham.gov.uk/doitonline or by calling 03000 260 000.