Town presses on with CCTV bid
COUNCILLORS have pledged to continue their efforts to obtain closed circuit television for a town centre - despite protests from a local resident that it would be an extension of a “Big Brother mentality”.
By David Green
COUNCILLORS have pledged to continue their efforts to obtain closed circuit television for a town centre – despite protests from a local resident that it would be an extension of a “Big Brother mentality”.
Framlingham Town Council has held talks with representatives of Aldeburgh, Saxmundham and Leiston with a view of forming a partnership with the police, the district council and Suffolk County Council to obtain and share operation of nine cameras.
However, Don Johnson, who lives in Saxstead and works in Framlingham, protested at the latest town council meeting that local people had not been formally consulted.
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He urged councillors to press for a greater police presence in the town rather than rely on CCTV.
“This would be a new extension to the Big Brother mentality spreading over this country,” he claimed.
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Mr Johnson said “innocent people going about their lawful business” would be among those recorded by the cameras.
“Many of the people I've talked to about it are against the idea,” he said.
Stephanie Bennell, town council chairman, said the people in favour of the introduction of CCTV included those whose property had been the subject of criminal damage.
“They are people who have had their windows smashed, their doors set fire to and cigarette butts pushed through their letter boxes. There is a great deal of criminal activity at night,” she said.
Ms Bennell said informal consultations had taken place and the business community was very keen on CCTV. Residents in the town centre and along other roads which had experienced car damage were also keen.
The town council felt it would have a strong deterrent effect, Ms Bennell said.
“The police think it would help get them convictions because, without the cameras, it is often a case of one person's word against another,” she added.
The partnership is considering using a wireless broadband system which would eliminate the need for cabling and enable camera locations to be moved more easily.
Good quality equipment is being sought – to enable the cameras to work in low lighting situations.
Police officers would be able to use computers and mobile phones to monitor the scenes being captured.
Funding has to be sought because each of the town councils has already fixed its local council tax rate for 2006/7 without taking into account the cost of CCTV.
Maintenance costs are expected to amount to £1,000 for all nine cameras.