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Saturday, 20 September 2014

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CCTV to cover Cumbria ‘overdue’

Plans for a countywide CCTV network are long overdue, a leading councillor has claimed.

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Elsie Martlew: ‘I feel our council has been thoroughly vindicated’

Cumbria Constabulary has proposed operating a new 54-camera system covering large parts of the county.

The set up promises to be one of the largest in the UK in terms of its geographical reach and would be sustainable for the long term.

Deputy leader of Carlisle City Council, Elsie Martlew, believes the new proposals show the authority has been vindicated after making cutbacks to the CCTV system as part of a spending review.

It was a decision that brought criticism and fears about a potential negative knock-on in terms of deterring crime and catching criminals.

Labour councillor Mrs Martlew has long argued it should be the police and not the council which covers the cost of running the service.

She said: “I feel our council has been thoroughly vindicated. Despite the political pressure we were under we have maintained the premise that CCTV is a discretionary and expensive service and we were the only council in Cumbria that kept it going.

“We thought it was a police tool but have kept our cameras running this year to fill the gap until police made a decision.”

Mrs Martlew was surprised by Cumbria Crime Commissioner Richard Rhodes’ comments in a television interview that capital costs for the new system would be funded by his office and running costs were to be born by Cumbria Constabulary.

“That doesn’t square with what we have been negotiating”, she explained.

At a meeting of the executive board of the police and crime commissioner earlier this week police chiefs said they had been talking to the district councils, with local authorities, the office of the crime commissioner and the force all poised to chip in to cover costs.

Cumbria Constabulary’s chief constable Bernard Lawson described the plans as a fantastic development.

The proposed system would be run from the Carleton Hall police headquarters near Penrith and likely locations for cameras include Carlisle, Workington, Maryport, Whitehaven, Penrith, Kendal and Barrow.

Mr Rhodes told the meeting: “From here on we invite the constabulary to go off and get quotes.”

Mr Lawson said: “This provides a great opportunity.”

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