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Harrogate Council Lib Dem leader says CCTV locations are 'outrageous'

Harrogate Council Lib Dem leader says CCTV locations are 'outrageous'

Published by Local Democracy Reporter Jacob Webster at 3:14pm 3rd March 2020. (Updated at 3:16pm 3rd March 2020)

The location of Harrogate Borough Council's CCTV cameras has been criticised

  • There are 27 cameras monitoring the council's headquarters, compared to three at public parks.
  • It's after cuts to the council's surveillance budget.
  • The number of staff operating cameras has also decreased.

The leader of the opposition on Harrogate Borough Council has described the region’s CCTV camera locations as “outrageous.”

Lib Dem councillor Pat Marsh was speaking at a meeting where it was revealed the council has 27 cameras monitoring its new multi-million pound headquarters – but only three at the region’s public parks.

The council’s community safety and CCTV manager, Julia Stack, told the meeting how North Yorkshire County Council has cut this year’s surveillance budget by more than half – down from £95,000 to £36,000.

Councillor Marsh said:

“You are doing an incredible job under the circumstances, but I would like to put on record my disappointment that you are not getting more funding. It is a very valuable service and I am saddened it has got a reduction. 

“And having 27 cameras covering this building, but only three in our parks, is just outrageous.”

Conservative councillor Nick Brown also said the amount of cameras at the Civic Centre is “quite a lot” – before adding “there are rather more pressing areas” they could be located.

Harrogate Borough Council
There are 27 CCTV cameras covering the council's headquarters.

As well as budget cuts, the district’s CCTV service has also seen its staff numbers shrink from eight to five – but it still manages to operate around the clock. 

Mrs Stack said:

“Historically we have had eight members of staff so we are doing really well to carry on. 

“It is open 24 hours, all year round, but there are times to be fair when we are not able to be fully staffed. Running the service with five people is quite a challenge.”

Councillor Marsh said the prospect of having even less staff looking out for members of the public is “quite scary.”

But Mrs Stack assured councillors the cameras will continue to provide a closely-watched service – and added further upgrades could be on the way. 

She said:

“We can hear the police airwaves, so if they are talking about a particular job, like a car coming in from Pannal, we like to think we are one step ahead and can be ready looking for them.

“In recent years we have upgraded the controls behind the scenes. In the next steps, we are looking to upgrade the equipment that is out there in the streets.”

There are a total of 210 council-operated cameras across the district, 54 of which are in car parks.

Harrogate and its surrounding area has 42, whilst Ripon has 10, Knaresborough eight and Starbeck one. 

So far in 2019/2020, the cameras have captured evidence of 198 police incidents.