CHESTER City Council is committing almost £300,000 to protect the historic Rows from criminal activity and fire damage.
A total of £65,000 will be used to extend the current CCTV network to cover more areas of the Rows around Eastgate Street and Bridge Street.
Last year, Chester Community Safety Partnership funded a camera on the corner of Watergate Street to help clamp down on anti-social behaviour, which has enabled CCTV operators to alert police to several incidents, including theft and drug dealing.
It is intended that further cameras will build on this success and help to reduce crime and disorder even further on the Rows.
As well as installing new cameras, Chester City Council is to use new recording technology across the whole CCTV network after Executive members allocated £120,000 towards advanced digital equipment.
The new equipment will store images onto its hard drive instead of relying on traditional video cassettes and provide higher quality images to the police. It will also generate savings of £5000 per year by allowing CCTV operators to transfer images onto DVD instead of video tape.
£75,000 has also been allocated to protect the Rows from fire using heat detection equipment in council owned premises and some public walkways.
The equipment links to a private monitoring station and will immediately alert the fire service and the council’s CCTV control room if an alarm is activated.
In addition to tackling anti-social and criminal activity such as alcohol consumption, graffiti, urinating and shoplifting, 24 hours CCTV surveillance of the Rows also has an important role in identifying fires at an early stage.
Councillor Neil Ritchie, executive member for environment, explained: “The Rows are a vital part of Chester’s heritage so the council, with support from Chester Community Safety Partnership, is providing the investment needed to secure their future.
“Extending CCTV coverage on the Rows will help to improve safety for residents and visitors and heat detectors will play an important role in protecting lives and property.
“We are working hard to target resources effectively and have also allocated £130,000 to target issues such as litter, graffiti and trade waste.
“The council is committed to making sure that key locations, such as the historic Rows and Town Hall Square receive the attention they deserve and is working closely with its partners and traders to raise standards and maintain a clean and welcoming environment.”