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Saturday, 29 November 2014

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Brampton council considers move to take over town's CCTV cameras

Community organisations are considering how they can beat a council cutback and keep CCTV cameras switched on.

Connie Ridley photo
Connie Ridley

Forty eight CCTV cameras are set to be switched off across Carlisle district by 2014, with the few that remain operating without being monitored.

Carlisle City Council has come forward with the plan to save £180,000-a-year.

The move would leave just 15 cameras in the entire city, down from 63 now, and none in outlying areas such as Brampton and Longtown.

Nine of the remaining cameras will be in council car parks while the rest will be in the city centre.

Brampton’s parish council is considering an idea to take over the town’s CCTV system, which was raised at its last meeting.

Chair Connie Ridley said: “We are really disappointed that they are being removed. We put money up in the first place to buy them.”

Because the item was not on the group’s meeting agenda it was not discussed in full but Mrs Ridley said they will need to examine their budget closely before they could consider taking over responsibility.

“I don’t mind if the CCTV is not monitored, as long as it is recording,” she added. “We need the CCTV.”

Mike Mitchelson, who represents Brampton on the city council, suggested the idea to the parish body.

He said: “I am concerned that the council really needs to think about what it is doing before switching CCTV cameras off. They are a proven method of preventing crime.”

The idea of a takeover has not been discussed by parish councillors in Longtown.

In the city centre there are also concerns about the plans for cameras.

Stephen Matthews, the owner of the shop Bookcase on Castle Street and the chairman of the board that oversaw an attempt to create a business improvement district in the city centre, is a supporter of CCTV.

“I think it has played a real part in making Carlisle a fairly low crime area,” he said.

Part of the improvement district plan was to create an agreement with the city council on a basic level of services that it would provide. This could have included CCTV.

But now that the project will not go ahead, Mr Matthews is concerned about what the council might do.

Elsie Martlew, the portfolio holder for environment and transport, said the authority would be keen to hear from people interested in taking over CCTV.

She said: “That is part of the proposals. We are now out to consultation with any interested group.”

She added that she was seeking meetings with people on this subject, including Richard Rhodes, Cumbria’s new police and crime commissioner.

Mrs Martlew also pointed out that the decision to axe CCTV cameras was part of ongoing budget cuts. The council has to find more than £6m of savings.

“It’s not something we have done lightly,” she said.

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