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Saturday, 02 August 2014

People's safety 'at risk' if CCTV cameras switched off in Carlisle

There are concerns that proposed cuts to Carlisle’s CCTV coverage will put residents’ safety at risk.

The issue was discussed yesterday by Carlisle City Council’s community overview and scrutiny panel.

A proposed plan – to reduce the number of cameras and to stop continuous monitoring of the system – aims to make budget savings of £180,000.

Olwyn Luckley, committee chairman, said it was an important service and added: “It is there to make people feel secure.”

She said that, while the proposals would ensure that the city centre was covered, she was concerned that other areas which relied on the service would lose the coverage.

Judith Prest, the committee’s vice chairman, asked if the money could not be found elsewhere.

She said: “We are receiving more money. I understand we had a £500,000 increase in the settlement. I wonder if it would be better spent on cameras.”

Scott Burns, the council’s environmental health manager, said that a new contract for the maintenance of the system, which was due to be renewed at the end of March, could be cheaper if there were fewer cameras.

Members heard that images could be transmitted over a wi-fi system, instead of the existing fibre optic network, would also be cheaper after the initial outlay.

Cameras cost £5,000 each and have an expected lifespan of five years.

Elsie Martlew, the council’s environment and transport portfolio holder, said that groups which benefited from the service should be expected to contribute towards the running costs.

She said: “This is a discretional service which is totally funded by the city council. The main beneficiaries are the police and the retailers.

“We are not shutting the system off, we are reducing it. We are asking the beneficiaries whether they can contribute.”

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