Councillor Max Coborn
Decision maker: Full Council
Decision status: For Determination
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
Cllr Coborn proposed and Cllr Hogan seconded the motion as at the agenda.
Cllr Coborn referred to the meeting arranged with the four town mayors three weeks previously. He had arrived at the meeting believing that the CCTV funding would last until the end of the financial year 2011/12. He was shocked to be told that the town councils needed to provide a further £15,000 or the cameras would be switched off on 31 August 2011. He stated that Cinderford Town Council could not precept half way through a year, but it believed CCTV to be vital to the towns and the police. He did not think the town councils had been properly consulted.
Cllr Diana Edwards clarified that town councils were asked to inform the council by 31 August if they were prepared to fund CCTV. If the town councils decided not to fund the initiative, the process of decommissioning would then begin, but the cameras would not be switched off on that date. She stated that the town councils had known for two years the district council’s intention to withdraw funding, because it had been in the medium term financial plan as part of the 2009 budget. Town councils were therefore aware in good time to consider and implement alternative arrangements.
She reminded members of the Full Council resolution from February 2011, which agreed a one-off payment to give the town councils more time to seek a solution. It did not state that the payment would cover CCTV costs to the end of the financial year. There remained £8,081 of the payment. The BT contract was paid up for two quarters of the year and required one month’s notice to cancel.
She hoped that members would agree that the council had done all it could to work with the town councils. The police had made the decision to withdraw funding for office space and time. She could not agree to spend even more money by overturning the previous Full Council resolution. She would not be supporting the motion.
Cllr Morgan said that Cinderford Town Council had not been consulted or notified of the district council’s intention. He had been on the original committee that planned and sought funding for setting up the CCTV system. He believed that the service was a district not a town council responsibility, since people from outlying villages came to the towns to access services. It was time for this council to accept its responsibility.
Cllr Robinson said that he believed that Cllr Morgan had been present at the Full Council meeting in 2009 and so would have seen the report concerning the intention to withdraw funding. In February 2011, after a thorough debate, Full Council agreed in full the request for a one-off payment. He was disappointed that some of the town councils were not telling the council of their intentions.
He had seen figures showing a recent decrease in crime, which he believed had been partly due to initiatives such as the council’s Friday Night Project in Cinderford. He believed that CCTV made no difference to crime levels and it was interesting to note that the police had not put enough importance on the service to continue its part of the funding. When the council had consulted on the budget CCTV had not been a high priority for residents. He was concerned that the motion might be a delaying tactic and wondered if the town councils wanted the district council to take over full funding of CCTV.
Cllr Horne pointed out that the majority of district residents had no need of the CCTV cameras in the towns. She had deliberately visited towns at night, had not seen much trouble and saw no point in retaining the CCTV cameras. She also pointed out that any trouble was not caused by young people, but by inebriated middle aged people.
Cllr Pugh believed that the decision to withdraw funding had been irresponsible. He also said that the council’s mandate in 2009 did not hold now. The motion simply sought to give time to work with partners to solve the problem for the next year.
Cllr Hogan agreed that the 2009 decision had been taken when one political group had had overall control, which was not the case now. He thought it iniquitous for the cost to fall on the council taxpayers of the four towns, partly because central government had capped district council and police authority expenditure. The whole community of the district should pay for the CCTV service. He was astonished that Cllr Robinson thought CCTV made no difference to crime. The issue was not around effectiveness, but funding. It was incumbent on the council to work with the town councils and others, including the police. He would remind the councillor of his complacency in the future, when people’s feeling of insecurity might lead to pubs and takeaways being affected by the removal of CCTV.
Cllr Bill Evans said that if members doubted the value of CCTV they, should visit the control centre to see the detail of what the cameras picked up, as he had done. To deny the service was irresponsible and the council needed to find the money from other savings such as the GO Project. If the council were vigorous rather than lethargic it could achieve the funding necessary.
Cllr Gardiner said that the case for the effectiveness of CCTV was overwhelming. However he was concerned that the council would be expected to fund the whole service. He thought that the county council, and in particular the police, should contribute, especially since CCTV was a great help in intelligence gathering. He would be concerned if another service had to suffer or another member of staff were made redundant in order to fund CCTV. He believed that the council should write to the Police Authority putting a strong case for it to ‘pick up the tab’ to a greater extent.
Cllr Molyneux said that he had listened to comments about CCTV being vital to the towns and the police, who were the two parties not prepared to pay for it. All public sector authorities had to make severe cuts. The council had worked hard in such projects as GO to share services and make savings. A newspaper article quoting Cllr Coborn stated that Cinderford Town Council was prepared to put in some money to the service. Coleford Town Council had decided not to. This council had made the one-off payment to give the town councils extra time.
All councils have had to make difficult decisions, which he believed were due to the previous Labour government’s creation of a massive deficit. It was easy to just advocate spending, but he believed that with the exception of Newent, the town councils had abrogated their responsibilities and needed to get involved. Otherwise he envisaged a motion in 2012 asking for the council to take over full funding of the CCTV network. The council could not magic up money. It was time for the town councils to start to do the work and not expect others to do it for them.
Cllr Quaile agreed, stating that Cinderford Town Council and two of the other towns had a precept in the order of £175,000. Town councils were able to vire monies within precepts. He believed that they should consider priorities in the same way the district and county councils had needed to.
Cllr Lawton, as mayor of Newent Town Council, expressed his thanks for the extra funding, which had given more time to do what the council had already planned. The town council had begun considering the issue in the previous year and had been able to address it without an increase in the precept, which included provision for running CCTV in Newent. He believed that the use of CCTV moved crime and had been a high priority for the people of Newent when consulted. At the mayors’ meeting he had not been clear what the other towns were doing. He had been concerned about a suggestion to scrap the district-wide street warden service to pay for CCTV in the towns. He concluded by saying that Newent Town Council was currently obtaining quotes and was on target to be able to implement as planned.
Cllr Elsmore said that Coleford Town Council had repeatedly asked for the breakdown of cost for CCTV. He asked what the requested £15,000 would cover. He asked how the town council could make a decision without the full facts.
Cllr Burford was confused by the numbers given so far. He asked for clarification on the following points:
What is the total cost of providing the district-wide CCTV network?
How much did the district council pay last year?
Who else contributed and how much?
How much has the district council agreed to pay this year?
How much are others paying this year?
The chairman thanked him for his interesting questions and invited officers to answer.
Cllr Lawton said that he understood the total cost for 2009/10 to be £59,172. Maintenance comprised of £15,000 and the BT lines £23,700. In Newent each fibre optic cable cost £1229 per year.
Upon invitation from the chairman, Debbie Powell, Community Engagement Officer, confirmed that the cost for 2009/10 had been £59,172. In 2010/11 council had contributed £40,000 of that and the remaining £20,000 had come from the police and the Community Safety Partnership. Currently the Police were paying for the operator and the office and the council is contributing the £20,000 agreed by Full Council in February 2011.
Cllr Burford agreed that CCTV was valuable, but if its use was to continue it was important that the costs be shared. He thought it wrong that the council was putting money in when none of the other partners were. Regrettably he could not support the motion as it stood, because probably the best for the community was for all parties to share the cost.
Cllr Hale showed a leaflet from a company that Wooton-under-Edge had used to install a cost-effective system. He commented that Newent had used time to go ahead with finding a solution, while it appeared that Cinderford Town Council had ‘sat on its hands’ and needed to get up and act. Coleford Town Council had begun to look at possibilities. He said that he would rather spend money on initiatives such as the Friday Night Project.
Cllr Morgan clarified that Cinderford Town Council had been the first to precept for CCTV and were simply waiting for the district council to act as lead partner.
Cllr Molyneux commented that clearly Cinderford Town Council had been in a position to look for solutions.
Cllr Martin objected to Cllr Hale’s comments. Cinderford Town Council spent its money on the community, supporting initiatives including youth projects. However the county council had decimated youth budgets and yet again town and parish councils were being expected to pay for services. She confirmed that Cinderford Town Council was seeking solutions to the CCTV issue and would be able to precept for 20112/13, but just needed funding to that point.
Cllr O’Neill agreed, stating that Cinderford Town Council had debated the matter and was actively looking for solutions. He repeated that the motion only asked for funding till the end of the financial year.
Cllr Lawton clarified that Newent would have a closed system.
The chairman suggested that Cllr Lawton could meet and explain to the other mayors how Newent had progressed, ensuring that all the mayors attended the meeting.
Cllr Smart commented that all councils had to make sacrifices in the current climate and she was concerned that this council could be wasting valuable resources.
Cllr Smart proposed and Cllr Ede seconded that the motion be put.
RESOLVED – to put the motion to the vote.
Voting was as follows.
For (38) – Norman Stephens, Roger Yeates, Jim Connell, Gethyn Davies, Brian Jones, Brian Edwards, James Bevan, Judy Davis, Frankie Evans, Carole Allaway Martin, Marrilyn Smart, Len Lawton, Peter Ede, Arthur Thomas, Julia Gooch, Ian Whitburn, Dave East, Maria Edey, Philip Burford, Andrew Gardiner, Graham Morgan, Max Coborn, Paul McMahon, David Thomson, Bill Evans, Bernie O’Neill, Don Pugh, Bruce Hogan, Val Hobman, Lynn Sterry, Di Martin, Jackie Fraser, Helen Stewart, Terry Glastonbury, Terry Hale, Diana Edwards, Martin Quaile, Patrick Molyneux, Brian Robinson, Jane Horne
Against (1) - Frank Baynham
Abstained (1) - Clive Elsmore
Summing up Cllr Coborn said that Cinderford had been initially asked for £8,500 and then three weeks previously for £15,000. He suggested that all parties get together to reach a solution for the whole forest community. He was concerned that yet another service was falling to the town councils and he envisaged an increase of eight per cent in Cinderford Town Council’s precept. He ended by stating his fear that soon the community would have no services.
The motion was put to the vote and was unsuccessful. The voting was as follows.
For (19) –Julia Gooch, Dave East, Maria Edey, Clive Elsmore, Andrew Gardiner, Graham Morgan, Max Coborn, Frank Baynham, Paul McMahon, David Thomson, Bill Evans, Bernie O’Neill, Don Pugh, Bruce Hogan, Val Hobman, Lynn Sterry, Di Martin, Jackie Fraser, Helen Stewart,
Against (23) - Norman Stephens, Roger Yeates, Jim Connell, Gethyn Davies, Brian Jones, Brian Edwards, James Bevan, Judy Davis, Frankie Evans, Carole Allaway Martin, Marrilyn Smart, Len Lawton, Peter Ede, Arthur Thomas, Ian Whitburn, Philip Burford, Terry Glastonbury, Terry Hale, Diana Edwards, Martin Quaile, Patrick Molyneux, Brian Robinson, Jane Horne
The chairman re-iterated that there was still some sense in the four mayors working together and confirmed that another meeting had been arranged.
Publication date: 19/08/2011
Date of decision: 20/07/2011
Decided at meeting: 20/07/2011 - Full Council