CCTV saved but traders will be asked to pay

STREETS in the centre of Nailsea will be kept safer for another year after the town council voted to keep CCTV cameras operating.

Councillors decided not to switch off the �20,000 a year system but ask traders to contribute towards it, after a discussion at a planning and environment committee on their value, in light of massive public spending cutbacks.

During a heated debate over the 13 cameras installed 15 years ago, councillors acknowledged no-one had been caught committing a crime but believe they do act as a deterrent.

Acts of antisocial behaviour and vandalism in the High Street and shopping precinct reduced overnight when the cameras became operational, the meeting heard.

A council working party had suggested turning off the CCTV to test the impact on crime but it was agreed this would have to be widely publicised to prove effective.

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But Councillor Liz Frappell expressed concern that properties could be vandalised during the experiment.

Town clerk Ian Morrell said not to fund CCTV would make a town with a low crime rate a ‘soft target’.

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Council chairman Rod Lees said: “�20,000 is a phenomenal amount to spend each year when there is no benefit except as potential crime prevention.

“We are facing tremendous pressure because of North Somerset Council so it is sensible to look at every item of expenditure, especially as this is the highest regular annual amount we spend.”

Cllr Clare Hunt argued with the precinct ‘deserted’ after 5pm in the evenings CCTV made people leaving work feel safer and traders would be ‘very upset’ if they were removed.

Cllr Jan Barber said: “If you asked residents if they were willing to pay �3 something per household per year for CCTV you would get a unanimous yes.”

Of the �20,000 a year, �16,000 is paid to British Telecom in line rental costs with the other �4,000 paying for maintenance and the cost of monitoring the cameras at a control centre in Weston.

The council will continue trying to keep costs down by using Virgin Media instead of BT for line rental, despite having to use a BT cable because it is the only one available.

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