A BITTER row has broken out between Hampshire’s police and crime commissioner and a council leader over the cost of providing CCTV to help keep streets safe.
Simon Hayes and Michael Cheshire, who leads Havant Borough Council, have been at loggerheads after Cllr Cheshire asked whether Hampshire Constabulary would help fund CCTV coverage in the Havant and Waterlooville area.
Mr Hayes has refused to provide any money and the council is now launching a review into the service, which is costing the authority £154,000 a year to run.
Since the 1990s, government funding helped set up the CCTV coverage for town centres and open spaces and the service is administered by the council.
The CCTV footage can be used by the police and according to council figures, led to more than 100 arrests in a 12-month period. However, the number of successful prosecutions is not known.
There are currently 46 cameras covering the area – 30 less than five years ago when the council was forced to cut the service to save cash.
Cllr Cheshire, a Conservative, told The News: ‘I have gone along to the police and crime commissioner and said to him the key user of the CCTV is the police – why are you are not funding it or making a contribution to it particularly when you have increased the precept and are the only organisation that has increased it?
‘He came back to me and said we are not going to contribute anything to the CCTV provision.’
He added: ‘If the police don’t feel it’s worth contributing to, I am saying why should the council taxpayer pay for it when we are facing a budget deficit in the next financial year?’
But Mr Hayes told The News: ‘Cllr Cheshire is simply wrong. The provision of CCTV in Havant is not the responsibility of Hampshire Constabulary, it’s a service provided by his council, as it is by others across the county.
‘If he makes the decision to cut the scheme in Havant then that is a matter for him and his members.
‘My statutory responsibility is to provide a police service to residents of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, not to subsidise shortfalls in Havant Borough Council’s budget. This has been explained to Cllr Cheshire more than once.’
Traders in Havant town centre said CCTV was a deterrent to crime.
Wendy Lake, who manages La Bonne Baguette in West Street, said: ‘If the police are using it, they should be contributing surely? Why should we pay for it?’
SIMON Hayes said the police could not afford the cash.
Mr Hayes, who is independent and not affiliated to any party, said: ‘The fact is it costs over £2.25m a year to provide community policing to Havant residents. ‘In addition, I invest thousands in grants to small community safety projects across the borough to help protect people and places.
‘The government, whom Cllr Cheshire supports, has reduced funding it gives to Hampshire Constabulary by £80m.
‘Despite these savage cuts, I’m determined to deliver community policing in Havant.
‘Cllr Cheshire’s representative voted in effect to cut community policing in Havant by not supporting an average £3.07 increase per year in the precept. I’m committed to maintaining neighbourhood policing in our communities. Quite frankly, I’m surprised at Cllr Cheshire’s lack of support for policing.’
In response to Mr Hayes’ statement, Cllr Cheshire said it was ‘absolutely wrong’ and said he did support policing in the area. No decisions have been made and the council will now undertake a review.