‘Axing the CCTV could see problems return’

Landlord of Leigh Park shops in Park Parade Mark Smith has criticised plans to axe CCTV

Landlord of Leigh Park shops in Park Parade Mark Smith has criticised plans to axe CCTV

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Armed police guard music fans at Mutiny Festival

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BUSINESSMAN Mark Smith says a council is making a mistake in forging ahead with plans to scrap CCTV.

Havant Borough Council has decided to turn off all 46 of its cameras this summer to save £150,000.

The council’s Scrutiny Panel resisted attempts by the cabinet to get rid of CCTV but have now reluctantly agreed that the equipment is out of date and money would be better spent elsewhere.
But Mark, a commercial landlord with 22 properties in Leigh Park, feels the authority is making the wrong decision.

He said: ‘One of the arguments put forward by the council is the cameras are in the wrong position in Leigh Park because there is no anti-social behaviour in those places.

‘But that’s exactly the point. There used to be and CCTV prevents it.

‘If you remove them the problems will come back.

‘I realise the council is stuck between a rock and a hard place because the equipment is old and expensive to replace.

‘But why didn’t it have the foresight to introduce new cameras a long time ago?’

Mr Smith said he hopes the council will get rid of the cameras gradually but believes that won’t happen because the control centre staff – run by a private company – have already been given redundancy notices.

He added: ‘It is clear from the scrutiny panel’s report that 65 per cent of residents feel safe with CCTV, 69 per cent believe it should be financed by the council and 82 per cent feel happy to have CCTV.

‘Bearing that in mind, is it really democratic to ignore the majority’s views?‘

Councillor Jackie Branson is chairwoman of the scrutiny panel which carried out the investigation into CCTV.

She said in other areas of the country anti-social behaviour did not increase once CCTV was removed.

She added: ‘We put a proviso in our report to the cabinet that if anti-social behaviour increases in the area we will look at it again.

‘For example, in North Street, anti-social behaviour has lessened because three pubs have shut.

‘It’s nothing to do with CCTV.’

The decision has already been passed by the cabinet.

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