Uniformed 'City Centre Rangers' are to patrol the streets of Bradford under a pioneering scheme to tackle youth unemployment.

The project - one of a number under the banner of the Government's New Deal - will be a first for Bradford if approval is secured from the Employment Service later this month.

Eight 18-24 year trainees will work full-time in Bradford city centre and receive £15 a week in addition to their benefits. They will be a visible and friendly face around the city centre, on hand to assist shoppers and tourists, and will be trained to keep an eye out for litter grot spots, graffiti and illegal fly-posting.

They will be trained either to fix the problem themselves or report it to the relevant authority.

Mick Binns, a contract services manager in Bradford Council's regeneration division, said: "The idea is that the City Centre Rangers will work for the benefit of the community - they are not taking away other people's jobs.

"They will be an on-street presence to help to get problems sorted out quickly. We will be looking for individuals who like dealing with people, and are comfortable with a free-ranging role."

The idea was welcomed by Jeff Frankel, of the Bradford Retail Action Group. He said: "This is an excellent idea, both for the city and the individuals concerned. We need someone to spot parts of the city needing remedial work - all power to them."

The New Deal, announced by the Government earlier this month, aims to help 18-24 year olds who have been unemployed for six months or more get back into work. They can opt for:

l full time education, with benefits

l a subsidised job with training, paying the going rate

l work in the voluntary sector with benefits plus £15 a week

l work with an environmental task force with benefits plus £15 a week.

Councillor Dave Green, chairman of the regeneration committee on Bradford Council, said: "This is an excellent project which will give the young people involved experience in dealing with members of the public, develop their personal skills and allow them to train for a recognised qualification.

"It will also give tangible benefits for all city centre users and lead to a cleaner and safer city centre."

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