Sidmouth CCTV donations may be returned

MONEY donated to pay for a CCTV system to help cut crime in Sidmouth town centre may be returned.

MONEY donated to pay for a CCTV system to help cut crime in Sidmouth town centre may be returned.

Anticipating up to two years' delay in solving the CCTV problem, because of a national CCTV strategy being considered by the Home Office and Police, Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce decided on Tuesday to offer the return of nearly £8,000 in cash, donated in its WATCH campaign through this newspaper.

Another £20,000 had been pledged for a system, originally estimated to cost £65,000 for eight cameras.

Resigning Chamber chairman, Paul Duriez, announced it would cost £250,000 to install 22 digital cameras to give comprehensive coverage.

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Derek Parry, president and acting chairman, asked why the Chamber was considering spending such money when Government information suggested car parks with improved lighting were as effective in deterring crime.

He said a digital system with Broadband was considered the best solution as it could be tracked by other counties with CCTV.

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Chris Taylor, who spent 18 months researching CCTV, told Tuesday's meeting: "That £250,000 figure is a load of hogwash. We don't need to go to that sort of depth."

Brian Dowie, general manager at Fields, added: "The quote was for £4-6,000 per camera, how have we gone from that to quarter of a million?

Mr Taylor confirmed donations, including £1,500 from County Councillor Stuart Hughes' locality budget, as well as anonymous amounts, totalled £7,845.

When asked what would happen to donated money, Mr Parry said: "It is clearly identified and held in a bank account for the Chamber. We had more in firm pledges than hard cash."

Mr Taylor was co-opted to the Chamber's executive to take prime responsibility for CCTV in future.

He told the traders: "Three or four people may want their money back if nothing is going forward in the next six months. We will have to do that if there is a long-term delay."

Later he said the £250,000 sum for CCTV "had come out of the blue.

"When I looked at systems the sky is the limit. It has got to do what is needed by the town. I don't believe it needs a system to that extent."

He said the cheaper digital system could be expanded later.

He and Mr Hughes met Sidmouth Town Council and put forward the smaller system.

"The goalposts changed, we were told the quotes did not have enough detail."

Mr Hughes said he would have to put his contribution to another use.

"I thought we were getting there at last. Certainly where there are systems they make people feel safer and have an effect on reducing crime.

"I think it is pretty sad if, after all the hard work put in by Chris, the system were to be abandoned.

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