Published: August 22, 2011
Burnham CCTV costs in spotlight by cash-strapped district council

Cash-strapped Sedgemoor District Council wants Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge Town Council to take over the cost of running CCTV cameras in the two towns as part of a new round of financial cuts.

Alison Griffin, Sedgemoor's Corporate Director for Customers and Communities, outlined the controversial plans to the Town Council's Policy and Finance Committee this week - and also hinted that other costs, for parks maintenance, could also be headed to the Town Council too.

She said cuts in central government income mean the district council will be unable to continue funding the existing CCTV service in Burnham and Highbridge in its current form from next April.

She has asked Burnham and Highbridge Town Council to contribute towards the high cost of managing CCTV cameras in locations such as Highbridge's Apex Park and Burnham High Street - or consider a reduction in service.

Mrs Griffin told town councillors: "We are seeking a contribution towards the cost of running the CCTV cameras. We are doing as much as we can with limited resources at the moment."

Cllr Ken Smout added at the council meeting: "Where will it all end? If the Town Council gives contributions towards CCTV and other district-run services, will a similar amount be expected next year? I fear this is just the tip of the iceberg."

He added: "I can't see why the Town Council would want to fund the cameras 24 hours a day. Unlike some other towns, many of our CCTV trouble spots are only a problem for 4-5 hours a day, so it's difficult to assess their value."

Cllr Phil Harvey added: "There's no way the Town Council can pick up the full costs. We need a detailed breakdown of the costs per camera in Burnham and Highbridge and have a clear indication as to whether they will be maintained or reduced."

Mrs Griffin added that a contribution had been sought from Avon and Somerset Police, but said funding has not been forthcoming.

Rhonda Mills, Chairman of Burnham's Chamber of Trade, told Burnham-On-Sea.com that many traders pay around £400 per year to participate in Burnham's Radiolink scheme, which covers a donation towards CCTV. "The cameras are a good deterrent for criminals and we wouldn't want them scaled back," she said.

The matter will be re-considered in more detail at an upcoming Town Council meeting in September.

Cllr Chris Williams, who chairs the Town Council's Policy and Finance Committee, said he is keen to avoid having to raise the town council's precept to cover the costs. "We want to avoid going to the public if at all possible," he said.

A number of services are being cut back by Sedgemoor District Council, which faces a reduction in its government income of around £800,000 - although this is not as bad as the £1.3m reduction that was first feared.

 


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