THE number of CCTV surveillance cameras in Wrexham may have to be cut because of funding pressures.
Currently the council operates 123 cameras – 91 pan, tilt, zoom, 32 static – keeping a watchful eye across the county costing nearly half a million pounds annually.
The majority of the financial burden is met by the county borough council’s transport and asset management, nearly £300,000, which has caused overspends in the departments budget.
Now council chiefs want to spread the load, find additional funding streams, or the number of cameras may have to be reduced or broken ones not repaired or replaced.
There is no figure for how many CCTVs may have to go if the costs can’t be met.
One of the problems is that different council departments dispute whether cameras come under their jurisdiction and therefore if they have to put cash into the pot to fund them.
The council has canvassed North Wales Police who currently give each authority £16,666 each towards CCTV.
Although there is no extra cash available from North Wales Police Chief Superintendent Ruth Purdie has agreed to make an application for additional funding on behalf of the council to the Police ‘central fund’.
She has also agreed to allocate staff to support CCTV operations to cover illness and review video evidence
Contributions are received from external sources such as companies in the retail and industrial sector.
But with the credit crunch biting hard the council does not want to push for extra money.
In a report chief transport and asset management officer Martin Wright said: “If additional funding cannot be found from existing stakeholders then the transport and asset management department will have to consider the following options:
Review each of the existing cameras and consider removing those where the fewest incidents occur.
Not to replace cameras when they become uneconomical to repair and/or redundant unless there is a formal commitment to revenue funding.
Reduce operation hours within the CCTV control room.
Highlight as an ongoing ‘budget pressure’.”
Wrexham’s lead member for finance and asset management Alun Jenkins said CCTV coverage provided locals with a sense of reassurance.
“We have been lucky in the past in that we were able to get grants to expand the CCTV system which are not available now,” he said.
“People appreciate them, they feel confident and it gives them peace of mind for areas covered.”