A CHARITY that has worked to keep communities safe for decades is set to close due to lack of funding.

OWL Cymru, previously Flintshire Neighbourhood Watch, has been based in at Mold Police Station since 1987 but will close its doors at the end of March due to a lack of funding, it has been confirmed.

Chairman Bill Brereton has said the “horribly sad news” comes after the group has been “battling for well over a year on funding”.

He said: “We have done everything we can not to have to fold but there isn’t money to support it so as of March 31 we will close.

“It is not financially viable. We’ve got emails coming in lots and lots of support. The thing is we have tried and tried to get funding and raise money ourselves but like so many in the third sector you are struggling to access money.”

Mr Brereton said that he believes OWL has been “a victim of its own success”.

He adds: “People always thought it would always be here and they will realise, and different funding beds will realise the value of it when it’s gone which is a great shame.”

The group issues crime prevention tips and advice aiming to keep residents across the region safe from fraud and criminal activity.

President Lord Barry Jones responded to the news by saying: “OWL Cymru has given magnificent service over a decade to the citizens of North Wales, via its management and operation of some 60 types of watch schemes.

“It has been a public service for the very best time. Our director and small team of staff and many volunteers have given their best to secure the everyday lives of countless people of all ages and backgrounds. With great sadness, I salute them.”

Connah's Quay councillors Gill and Eric Faulkner have been trustees for the Neighbourhood Watch/Owl Cymru for over 16 years and they said their town will be 'terribly affected'.

Gill told the Leader: "Staff and volunteers work tirelessly in our communities safeguarding our older and vulnerable people.

"Sixteen years ago, Connah's Quay was a nightmare with anti-social behaviour, burglaries and drugs and over the past 12 months, it was improved dramatically thanks to OWL.

"OWL Cymru has made a difference. The closure is going to have a terrible affect on the Connah's Quay community but we will carry on working with the community in liaison with police and other organisations but other areas may suffer because there's no-one to support them.

"It is sad that it has come to this point because we have tried so hard.

"It's going to be a sad day when it ends."