Louth Town Councillors have voted to refuse to pay the next invoice for CCTV provision as they feel they are not getting their money’s worth - and are considering ‘going it alone’ or forming a new partnership.
The decision came after Coun Eileen Ballard highlighted a plethora of problems that have developed since the town’s CCTV monitoring moved from a control room in Skegness over to one in Boston - against Louth Town Council’s wishes - following an agreement between East Lindsey District Council and Boston Borough Council in 2015.
Coun Ballard, who represents Louth Town Council in the ‘East Lindsey group’ of seven affected towns - alongside Alford, Chapel St Leonards, Horncastle, Ingoldmells, Mablethorpe and Skegness - said that they had become ‘disillusioned’ with the scheme and ‘the way we (the seven towns) have been treated’.
Coun Ballard continued: “We pay towards the system, but we don’t feel we are getting a fair coverage.”
She claimed that the majority of the CCTV screens at the new control room were focused on Boston itself, while Louth’s screens were ‘in a little bit on the left hand side’.
Coun Ballard also raised other concerns including fears that the infrared function might not work at night in areas where there is a lot of artificial light, the risk of wi-fi signal being poor or nonexistent in some areas of the town, and concerns that the guarantee on the new digital CCTV cameras may have expired by now.
She said no agreements have been signed with ELDC since 2014, before the CCTV moved to Boston, and added that no invoice for maintenance costs has been received - and proposed that the town council ought to refuse to pay their next bill.
Coun Ballard added that Mablethorpe Town Council and Louth Town Council are both in a position where it would be viable for them to split from the partnership and ‘go it alone’, which prompted Coun Dan Turner to propose that they should formally contact Mablethorpe’s council to suggest working together and merging their resources.
Both of these proposals were supported.
ELDC’s Public Protection Service Manager, Jon Challen, told the Leader: “We’re aware that the process of getting the CCTV system in place has been more protracted than anticipated.
“However, ELDC have invested £432,000 into getting this system into place and when the project is complete the CCTV system in use across East Lindsey will be state of the art and one of the best systems in use across the country”.
An ELDC spokesman added: “Should any town council wish to ‘go it alone’ that is entirely their choice.
“However, it should be noted that in doing so they would be taking on the responsibility for storing the images generated by the cameras and need to satisfy the Information Commissioner that they are doing so in the correct manner.”
He said ‘no decision’ has been made yet, as to whether or not to send maintenance bills out to the affected towns.
The spokesman rejected suggestions there would be problems with the infrared function, and asked for any evidence of this to be presented to ELDC.
He added that the scheme is made of both hard-wired and wireless connections, to overcome the wi-fi issue.