Councillor Andrew McHugh (Con, Adderbury, Bloxham & Bodicote) has claimed that the proposed £99,000 cut to Cherwell District Council’s funding of CCTV operations had been put forward to push through a long-awaited review of how the system works.
There are currently 80 cameras in the district, they are connected to a control room operated and monitored by four Thames Valley Police staff.
The council currently pays some staff costs and for the maintenance, repair and refurbishment of CCTV equipment itself.
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The under-threat portion of funding has since been put back with Councillor Sean Woodcock (Lab, Banbury Ruscote), leader of the opposition at Cherwell and one of the councillors who staunchly opposed the cuts, claiming a moral victory.
However, Cllr McHugh was adamant that the move, introduced as one of many budgetary measures to save the council more than £2 million, was a political lever to open up dialogue with Thames Valley Police & Crime Commissioner Matthew Barber over more efficient ways of operating the system across all areas covered by his force.
In response to Cllr Woodcock’s assertion that the Convserative-led council had “regained your senses” and “decided you were going to listen to us”, Cllr McHugh said: “I don’t want to disappoint Councillor Woodcock but I didn’t listen to him.
“The reason that was on the table was because for as long as I have been involved with community safety, we are always due to be reviewing CCTV and it has never happened.
“I spoke to the Police & Crime Commissioner and pointed out to him that the vast majority of the money that goes into CCTV is to employ people to sit and watch screens where nothing happens apart from perhaps two minutes of interest per day.
“There has to be a better way of doing this. There is, I have now convinced the Police & Crime Commissioner of (the benefits of) a wholesale review of how CCTV is going to be delivered effectively and efficiently across the Thames Valley.
“This is going to happen. In order to get the attention, we had to make that proposal. We now have it, CCTV is going to improve and I am very happy but it was nothing to do with any influence (from) or listening to the Labour party whatsoever.”