Shelley Parker, Marlborough’s new town clerk who starts work on Monday, will have at least one major project on her desk to work on – the introduction of a CCTV system in the town.
After a heated debate, the town council last night (Monday) adopted the 10,000-word report of Councillor Nick Fogg calling for the introduction of a simple deployable camera system to protect the town.
And a majority of councillors believe that Mrs Parker is the appropriate person to take charge as she introduced the CCTV project in Cricklade, where she was town clerk for the past four years.
A copy of Councillor Fogg’s report is to be put on the town council’s website for residents and retailers to read, and consultation will take place with Marlborough Chamber of Commerce and the police, who had no representative s present at last night’s meeting.
In a wrangle over procedure, town councillors rejected a proposal by Tory Councillor Noel Barrett-Morton that a working party of councillors, Chamber of Commerce members and the police should identify the CCTV system required and its funding before the town council went ahead with the scheme.
After a debate that has been going on for 11 years over CCTV in Marlborough, councillors demanded that the talking had to stop and action taken immediately.
Councillor’s Fogg report, which has the support of Grant Taylor, Wiltshire’s CCTV controller, calls for a system of cameras that can be deployed to hot spots, as and when needed, plus the provision of a permanent camera outside Marlborough town hall.
The latter would protect the building itself but also cover nearby shops, which have become the victim of window-smashing vandals, while the other cameras would cover specific anti-social problems and areas hit by thefts from cars as well as shops.
In presenting his report, Councillor Fogg, one of Marlborough’s two Wiltshire councillors, thanked Grant Taylor for his help and guidance.
“He has read this report and said it was a fair assessment of the situation,” Councillor Fogg pointed out. “He believes CCTV is no more than a tool and should not be used as a stand alone solution. You must be able to justify to use of public space for CCTV, justification being to show there is no other effective solution.”
And he added: “A lot of CCTV has been provided more in hope than in judgment, often as a result of the activities of very enthusiastic but not particularly important people.”
“As a result a billion pound industry has grown up which, in the view of the Home Office and other important sources such as the Metropolitan Police, has not been particularly effective.”
“Scotland Yard’s anti-terrorism unit reiterates that saying that in fact that most public CCTV is possibly a waste of time, very little is being used effectively.”
He asked: “Is there any point in it?” and continued: “Yes, there is in various situations. Firstly, and this is what Grant Taylor says, it is very valuable in identifying who was where at a particular time. That is one of its main functions.”
“Secondly, and this may come as a slight surprise, it has become a great asset in, not policing, but surveying public events such as when the Olympic torch came through Marlborough. It is very valuable for the safety of the public to do that.”
One of the vital aspects of the report is the identification of the Marlborough area as one of the safest in the county, if not the country.
“That is one of the really encouraging factors , that this area has very low crime statistics compared to others, possibly the lowest in Wiltshire,” declared Councillor Fogg.
“Too often a negative picture of Marlborough is presented by various people. This is part of a wholly positive picture that we have one of the lowest crime rates in the country.
“We mustn’t talk down this area. It is not in anyone’s interests to do so.”