Horncastle councillors told they should refuse to pay £4,000 bill for '˜worthless' CCTV system

Councillors in Horncastle should refuse to pay a £4,000 contribution towards the town's CCTV system amid claims it is '˜worthless'.

Councillor Jonathan Ferrari - unhappy with CCTV coverage in the town
Councillor Jonathan Ferrari - unhappy with CCTV coverage in the town

That is the opinion of town councillor Jonathan Ferrari, who said the current system was ‘obsolete, not working and not managed properly’.

His claims, however, brought a swift response from East Lindsey District Council, which, in a statement, insisted the cameras are functioning properly.

Coun Ferrari was speaking at a meeting of the town council last week.

He said the system had failed to record two recent incidents in the High Street – the attempted theft of cash from a bank cash machine and events surrounding the disappearance of a life-saving defibrillator.

Coun Ferrari revealed shortcomings in the system had come to light when a town PCSO – the now retired Keith Briggs – volunteered to travel to the CCTV control room in Boston to check tapes of events surrounding the missing defibrillator.

Coun Ferrari said PCSO Briggs had discovered the cameras were in a fixed position and were not on the usual and recommended roaming setting.

He told councillors: “Basically, that means unless something happens right in front of a camera, then it’s going to be missed.

“That is exactly what happened with regard to the ATM machine and the missing defibrillator.

“Instead of a full recording, which the police could have used, we’ve got nothing.

“That effectively means the system is worthless. It’s outdated, not working and not managed properly.

“Now, I’m told we’ve received an invoice for more than £4,000 towards the running of the cameras.

“I seriously think we should consider not paying.

“It’s a ridiculous situation. The cameras are supposed to be a deterrent.”

Coun Ferrari said if the council withheld payment, it might lead to improvements.

Coun Ferrari was backed by PCSO Nigel Wass, who was at the council meeting.

PCSO Wass said the current CCTV system was ‘clearly ineffective’ and confirmed the cameras appeared to be in a fixed position.

He suggested the problem seemed to have arisen after the CCTV control room was moved from Skegness to Boston earlier this year as part of financial cutbacks by East Lindsey District Council.

Mayor Coun Bill Aron said he had visited the new control room shortly after it had opened and the cameras were definitely in a roaming position.

He said he would take up concerns with operators.

Councillors have previously expressed concerns that CCTV cameras in Horncastle were ineffective because of limitations with the town’s WiFi coverage.

Jon Challen, community safety team leader at East Lindsey District Council, said: “There has clearly been some miss-information provided to the town council as the CCTV cameras in Horncastle are in the roaming position and this has always been the case.

“While CCTV will never capture all crime and anti-social behaviour, it has an important role to play in both the detection and prevention of such incidents.

“All the cameras record 24/7 and footage can be reviewed. CCTV has an excellent record of assisting the police with their investigations, which is why the district council has worked hard to reduce the cost in order to continue to provide the service against the substantial budget pressures being faced.”