CRIME in Newport city centre will rise if community safety wardens are removed, a councillor claims.

Tory member David Fouweather says the previous Conservative administration, of which he was a cabinet member, worked hard to bring down incidents of violence and anti-social behaviour in the city centre.

But this will all be undone, he says, now that a senior head of service has given the go-ahead, without public consultation, to deploy them more frequently to residential areas.

Cllr Fouweather believes the decision was made to help the council enforce its tougher stance on fining dog owners who don’t pick up their pet’s mess – something he has already claimed cannot be properly policed.

The former cabinet member for street services said: “There’s now no cover to tackle anti-social behaviour in the city centre which leaves it vulnerable.

“The city centre is an area of Newport where we have the greatest number of antisocial behaviour incidents.

That dropped when we were in control – we put a dedicated warden team in to deal with the issue and the move was welcomed by traders and police. This is a stupid decision.”

Community safety wardens, previously known as the Estates Ranger Service, were first brought in in 1995 to respond to problems in housing estates.

In 2003 they expanded to cover all residential areas and around two years ago designated city centre wardens were introduced.

Eventually around six wardens were brought from the surrounding housing estates to patrol the main shopping areas five days a week.

Newport council refused to comment, but e-mails shown to the Argus say they will be involved in discussions with the police about daytime and evening issues in the city centre.