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Friday, 01 August 2014

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Carlisle CCTV cameras: We will fight switch-off, vow Tories

Senior Conservative councillors in Carlisle say they will campaign at future elections to retain the city’s crime busting CCTV system.

andy elsiecctv
Watch this space: Richard Rhodes with councillor Elsie Martlew in the CCTV control room in Carlisle

The comments have come as the row over the future of cameras continued to escalate, with Labour councillor Elsie Martlew insisting the cost cutting plan to scale back the system is a legacy of Government budget cuts.

Under current council plans, all but 15 of the current 63 cameras covering Carlisle will be switched off when the authority’s contract with BT comes to an end. The move would save £180,000 a year.

The proposals has been branded “disgusting” by one former senior detective who pointed out the crucial role played by the cameras in several major investigations.

Brampton councillor and former city council leader Mike Mitchelson said that he feared the reduction in camera numbers could spell the end for Carlisle’s Pubwatch and Shopwatch schemes.

“Both of these schemes depend on the cameras to work properly,” he said. “The majority of Carlisle will not be covered. It will be lost in Currock, Stanwix, Raffles, English Street, Court Square, Harraby, Petteril Bank.

“This will be a strong point for the Conservatives at the next election.

“We would want to save the CCTV system. It’s the people of Carlisle who benefit most because they make our streets safer.”

Group leader John Mallinson added: “While we’re acutely aware of the funding position the city council finds itself in, the CCTV cameras are not something we’d be looking to reduce expenditure on.

“We will present our alternative proposals to the budget meeting in February.”

The comments brought a spirited response from Mrs Martlew, Labour city councillor with responsibility for CCTV cameras.

She said: “This is effectively a Tory cut: this government is making us cut our budget by a third – that’s £7m from a budget of £20.1m from 2011 to 2015.

“The Conservatives should be making representations to their Government.”

Mrs Martlew said those who benefit from the cameras – including the police, and businesses in the Pubwatch and Shopwatch schemes – had so far failed to offer any financial contribution to the running costs.

She added: “The essence of it is that the community feel much safer seeing more police on the beat, but I never heard them [local Tory councillors] criticise the Government for cutting police budgets and closing police stations.”

She said the cameras were under consideration because spending on them was discretionary. She added that talks would continue with local partners to find a possible way forward before any final decision.

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