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CCTV cameras could be switched off in Carlisle

CCTV cameras in Carlisle could be switched off as the city council seeks to slash spending.

The proposal is one of several cash-saving ideas under consideration as the Labour-run authority seeks to freeze council tax while coping with cuts in government grant.

At least some of the city’s 62 crime-busting cameras are likely to be mothballed. Others might be handed over to Cumbria police.

Those that remain would no longer be routinely monitored.

They would record images, which could be examined later if there was an incident.

The aim is to reduce the £221,000 annual budget for CCTV to £41,000.

Other proposals include:

  • Doubling parking charges at Talkin Tarn, near Brampton, to £2 a day;
  • Handing back responsibility for road maintenance and winter gritting to Cumbria County Council;
  • Making councillors and council officers pay if they attend the annual civic dinner;
  • Not filling vacancies in the customer-contact centre at the Civic Centre;
  • A major shake-up of the economic development team, cutting posts;
  • Cuts in spending on IT, training, human resources and town twinning.

Council leader Joe Hendry believes the proposals offer the best chance of protecting jobs while minimising the effects on the public.

He said: “We have pledged to freeze council tax, and we will, and we aim to protect front-line services and to avoid redundancies.

“We hope that any redundancies will be voluntary and there won’t be any need for compulsory redundancies.”

He said that, rather than simply slice budgets across the board, the new administration had examined everything to see where cuts would do the least harm.

Dr Hendry added: “We are trying to change the culture of the organisation so that staff feel they have responsibility for their own destiny.

“They have had a hard time in the last few years and I’d like to give them breathing space.”

The authority needs to cut £6.8m from a £20.1m budget between 2010-11 and 2015-16. It has saved £4.3m so far but needs to find another £1.38m in 2013-14.

A policy of ‘vacancy management’ – not automatically replacing staff who leave – has been in place since 2008.

CCTV is one of the main targets for savings because there is no legal requirement to provide it.

The council has already cut the hours that cameras are monitored and is encouraged by the experience of Eden where cameras were switched off last year and there has been no surge in crime.

If there is strong public opposition to cutting CCTV, the council hopes that businesses and other organisations may provide funding to allow it to continue.

The city council also carries out road maintenance and gritting, but this service could be handed back to the county council.

Carlisle is almost unique among district councils in carrying out road maintenance and gritting.

In the rest of Cumbria, and almost everywhere else in England, this is a county council function.

Cumbria County Council pays the city council to do the work but the money does not cover the full cost.

Handing back the service should save £230,000 a year and will involve some staff moving to the county under European transfer-of-undertakings regulations.

The council’s ruling executive will take a first look at the cost-saving proposals a week on Monday.

Have your say

Cctv, why was it introduced in the first place? the idea initially was used as observation of traffic in busy motorways etc, this then got extended to other areas, culminating in mass observation by councils, the promise was that the police would nto be able to use the ccctv, control rooms, as this may be flt to be unbalanced in the evnt of evidence in a crime/s, so 30 years down the line, the cctv is taken over by the police -possibly, another step on the ladder to totalitarian state. also, it proves the cost effectiveness is marginal to have cctv cameras, in city centres, and their worth, hence its one of the first services to be given the chop.

Posted by John on 30 August 2012 at 09:29

In early July, Joe Hendry attended a Q & A with Lord Green (Minister for Trade) and one of Lord Green's better suggestions on how to boost exports by local businesses was to make better use of town-twinning arrangements. Looks like that sensible suggestion went in one ear and out the other with the proposed cuts.

Posted by BM on 29 August 2012 at 21:25

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