Horsham Neighbourhood Watch program uncertain following closure

THE future of Horsham’s Neighbourhood Watch program is uncertain, following the closure of another group.

Sunnyside Neighbourhood Watch is the latest group to disband, after failing to attract enough office-bearers at its annual meeting.

Horsham West Neighbourhood Watch folded in December last year because of a lack of numbers.

Horsham Senior Sergeant Brendan Broadbent said the program structure was being reviewed to find a model that would best suit Horsham residents.

“There have been big changes in the structure of Neighbourhood Watch,” he said.

“Previously, a number of locations ran a Neighbourhood Watch.”

But dwindling membership numbers have program co-ordinators considering a Horsham-wide group.

“It’s in its early stages at present and we’re still exploring all the options to find a suitable model for this particular area,” Sen Sgt Broadbent said.

Former Sunnyside group member Gayle Thomas said the annual meeting was rescheduled several times.

“Some of the residents really wanted to keep it going,” she said.

A possibility that the Sunnyside group could be incorporated into a combined Horsham group gave some members hope.

“Also, in the earlier days, I believe someone from police used to come to meetings and give a report,” Mrs Thomas said.

“That role has changed.”

Sunnyside Neighbourhood Watch donated its remaining $448 to Wimmera Health Care Group.

Mrs Thomas said the group’s finances were used to print a bi-monthly newsletter, which reached 1200 homes.

She hoped another group would step up to keep residents informed about crime trends and safety tips targeted to their home areas.

“Just in our area, there has been a number of burglaries already,” she said.

Horsham North Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator Ron Eldridge believed his group had done much to improve the area’s safety and said it should continue in its existing format.

The group has arranged for five bus stop shelters to be built in the past two years.

Members have also been lobbying Horsham Rural City Council for footpath repairs. Horsham North Neighbourhood Watch is one of few Neighbourhood Watch groups in the Wimmera still going strong.

“Thirteen people went to our meeting on Wednesday and we had nine apologies,” Mr Eldridge said.

“I’ve spent 10 years on the group and been the area co-ordinator for seven. I’ve kept it going and going and I don’t want to see it fold.”

Sen Sgt Broadbent said property damage had increased throughout Horsham.

He asked people to be alert to holiday crime, when homes and cars were typically full of gifts.

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