Plans for cuts to CCTV across the Banbury area 'idiotic' - Police commissioner to be asked to intervene

The Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner is to be asked to intervene in an 'idiotic' decision to cut funding for CCTV in Banbury, Bicester and Kidlington.

Tuesday, 14th December 2021, 5:21 pm
Updated Tuesday, 14th December 2021, 7:32 pm
Cuts in funding for CCTV are on the cards as Cherwell councillors look for ways to come up with a workable budget

Councillor Perran Moon (Lab, Banbury Grimsbury & Hightown) made the request for a referral to commissioner Matthew Barber while describing as "idiotic" the council's controversial proposal to save £99,000 by ending financial support for public space CCTV.

It was put forward as part of £2.6million worth of savings that Cherwell District Council says it needs to make in the financial year 2022-23.

Its report acknowledges that “all live monitoring” of 80 cameras across Banbury, Bicester and Kidlington, the cost of which is shared between Thames Valley Police and Cherwell District Council, could cease with the system “likely to become mainly a tool to be used for retrospective evidence gathering”.

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Cllr Moon asked Mr Barber “to use whatever influence he may have over the controlling Conservative group on this council to persuade them to ditch the idiotic proposal to cut CCTV funding by this council by up to 40 per cent".

The report deemed "unlikely" the prospect of Thames Valley Police funding the level of provision currently in place. Mr Barber, who also serves as a district councillor in Vale of White Horse, said the most efficient way of managing CCTV across the whole of Thames Valley was a matter of ongoing discussion.

He said: “I am very keen to work with all local authorities and there is a varied picture across Thames Valley around the way authorities fund CCTV.

“I would always argue for the greatest contribution from local authorities to support this but there is a mixed economy.

“There is some work going on - it began in Buckinghamshire and I am keen to spread it across the whole of Thames Valley - to try to make sure we have common systems and equipment as far as possible, meaning we have a CCTV system that links into Thames Valley Police’s own systems to work as effectively as possible.”

It follows on from Councillor Sean Woodcock (Lab, Banbury Ruscote), leader of the opposition in Cherwell, seeing his attempt to get the cuts taken off the table altogether voted down by six of the seven Conservative members on the Budget Planning Committee last week.

The counter argument from Councillor Barry Wood (Con, Fringford & Heyfords), leader of Cherwell District Council, was that councillors should wait to see whether the cuts would be necessary when the final budget is put forward early next year.

He suggested "there could be all sorts of arrangements with all the districts across the Thames Valley about how CCTV is financed" despite believing there to be "a definite argument that it should be rationalised".