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Melksham’s CCTV project cut from town council budget – community safety campaigners up in arms

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ALOCALcommunity safety campaigner has criticised the town council for not allocating any money to the development of the town’s CCTVcoverage in the 2020/21 budget.

According to the chairperson of the Melksham Area Community Safety Group, Colin Goodhind, the town’s CCTV scheme is in desperate need of investment to improve its coverage and ‘inadequate’ storage system.

One member of the group also told Melksham News that they were unable to help police with recent enquiries into two incidents in the town, as CCTV footage had not been saved, due to a lack of storage space.

However, the town council has offered reassurance, explaining that whilst no funding has been allocated to the CCTV project, the council intends to explore other options for funding, including support from the Home Office.

Chair of the Melksham Area Community Safety Group, Colin Goodhind, said, “I’ve been involved for well over 15 years struggling to stimulate interest within our town council to support serious development of Melksham’s CCTV coverage so I attended last Monday’s meeting (20th January) to find out what funding had been agreed for the coming year. 

“I listened to various options being discussed, but CCTV was only mentioned once by the chairperson speaking in support of project funding including our CCTV. No councillor mentioned or commented on the subject and the final vote decided a cut in funding for projects. The reason given was that none of their constituents wanted or were able to pay more. 

“I decided there and then that I was wasting my time and would quit my involvement immediately. If I was convinced that this vote reflects the general feeling within the community I would leave it at that, but comments and feedback over the years, including from the police, indicate otherwise. 

“So the question is does Melksham want effective, proportionate and well-managed CCTV to help make people feel safer or not? If you do, then your town council doesn’t seem to understand that. If you’re not really worried, then just leave things as they are with a few cameras, no volunteers to help monitor them and inadequate storage to make the system as useful as it could be.”

In response, town clerk for the town council, Linda Roberts, told Melksham News, “At the full council meeting held on 20th January 2020, the budget for the 2020/2021 financial year was discussed and ultimately agreed.

“The investment in a more sophisticated CCTV system within the town is one of many exciting projects which the town council would like to undertake. However, these projects are competing for a limited pot of funding and a difficult decision was made to remove from this year’s budget the sum of £106,000, previously allocated to the major projects reserve.  The council are very conscious of the economic climate and wanted any increase in the precept for residents to be minimal. 

“This does not mean the end of such projects. The town council aims to explore other funding avenues such as external funding, support from the Home Office and pursue the possibility of using funding from the Community Infrastructure Levy arising from new housing developments.

“The town council will be embarking on a strategic plan for the town and will complete this in consultation with the local community to set out an order of priority for expenditure on future major projects.”

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