CIVIC officials say the dedicated street warden secured to patrol Poole's Ashley Road will be "starting shortly."

In the months before Covid-19 emerged in the UK, retailers and residents had been complaining of drug dealing, theft, fighting and intimidation along Ashley Road.

Many shops along what is one of the main retail and business roads in the district were also vacant.

When the Echo visited mid-January at least 11 of the units were empty.

Yesterday, it appears at least nine units were vacant, with another three being readied for new businesses.

Earlier this year, at a public meeting called to address a rise in reported antisocial behaviour, traders expressed anger at what they felt was a lack of action by the authorities to tackle the issue.

A few weeks after that BCP Council's Newton and Heatherlands ward representative, Cllr Millie Earl, confirmed a funding application for a community safety accreditation scheme (CSAS) – that would provide Ashley Road with a dedicated street warden – had been successful.

Now a BCP Council spokesman has also confirmed a candidate has been selected and will be starting soon.

The spokesman told the Daily Echo: "We are passionate about our communities and supporting the vitality of town centres is a key priority for the council.

"Throughout lockdown contact has been maintained with Ashley Road traders, highlighting government guidance with regards to Covid-19, available grant funding and required social distancing measures.

“With the aim of regenerating Ashley Road, at the start of the year we also took steps to assist local traders in their bid for the funding of a CSAS officer for Ashley Road to help address anti-social behaviour and attract more people to the centre.

"A candidate has now been successfully recruited and will be starting shortly, subject to employment checks.

"We remain in regular contact with businesses and residents through our anti-social behaviour team, who can take formal enforcement action where an individual’s behaviours are detrimental to the community’’

“Future measures to support Ashley Road and other centres will be discussed this year in our upcoming economic development strategy and action plan.’’