Marlborough town concillors last night (Monday) again ducked making a final decision on the introduction of CCTV cameras in the High Street.
They have been debating the issue – and the cost – since October, 2011, when Tory councillor Noel Barrett-Morton won a by-election promising the introduction of CCTV.
The council has earmarked £20,000 for CCTV and another £5,000 is expected from an application to Marlborough Area Board by the Chamber of Commerce.
In January Councillor Nick Fogg produced a 10,000-word report with recommendations to buy four deployable cameras that can be moved to “hot spot” sites as and when needed.
But a report by town clerk Shelley Parker revealed that such a project would require additional funding, including £2,000 a year for maintenance, and had discovered that Wiltshire Council had CCTV cameras that could be hired by the town council.
She also revealed that the government had issured a CCTV guidance report which declared that a legitimate reason had to be available before CCTV cameras were installed, though the guidance carried no sanctions for councils who ingnored the code.
Earlier in the meeting, Police Inspector Mark Thompson told the council that, apart from an outbreak of thefts from cars parked at local beauty spots, Marlborough was an exceptionally safe town with a low crime and social abuse rate.
And questioned as to crime in the High Street he said that police statisitcs did not provide such detail, although an analysis could be provided if requested.
Opening a debate of contrasting views, the Mayor, Councillor Guy Loosmore, insisted that councillors could not make an instant decision until a detailed costed recommendation had been made in the coming months.
And this was followed by the comment from Councillor Peggy Dow that since the majority of residents will get no benefit from CCTV it should be the the Chamber of Commerce that paid for it. She suggested too that residents should be consulted before any decisions is made.
Newly co-opted Councillor Mervyn Hall recommended CCTV signs and fake cameras would be a cheaper and equally effective alternative.
But Councillor Justin Cook, who runs a taxi firm in Marlborough, protested: “If we are not careful, Marlborough, which is seen as a beautiful and lovely town to come to, will become involved in crime.”
“I have seen some acts of violence over the past three years and with the greatest respect to the council, you are not out there at 2am. You don’t know how alcohol-fuelled violence and abuse occurs in this town.”
Both the Mayor and the deputy Mayor, Councillor Marian Hannaford-Dobson, referred to incidents in which members of their families had been mugged at bank ATMs and one of the Mayor’s sons seriously injured.
Councillor Fogg pointed out that it was not a question of whether any CCTV scheme was “cost effective” by using the cheapest technology but whether it was effective in its purpose.
His research had shown that redeployable cameras were the most effective answer.
Councillor Barrett-Morton said the proposal he had put forward last August should be adopted, pointing out it was similar to that installed at No10 Downing Street.
“I contend that what is good enough for Downing Street is good enough for us,” he added.
Finance committee chairman Councillor Andrew Ross warned that if the £20,000 already allocated was not enough then an increase in the town council’s precept would be needed to cover future costs.
Councillor Steward Dobson replied that savings elsewhere in the council’s budget need not make a rate rise inevitable.
The council adopted the amended recommendations of the town clerk’s report, the Mayor declaring that a “definitive decision” had to be delayed until fully detailed and costed proposals were placed before the council.