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Reporting local life since 1854

Thursday, July 28, 2011

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Town council idea backed RESIDENTS have supported a proposal to form a town council. The idea was discussed at a public meeting held in Fenton last night. Plans to set up an authority for the town have come about following the loss of community facilities in the area. The campaign group behind the idea says it hopes it will stop Fenton becoming a ‘forgotten town’. See Page 2

PITCH BATTLE

HAJDUK SPLIT READY TO FIGHT FOR BRITANNIA RESULT: SEE PAGES 44-48

Cash-strapped council plans investment in new CCTV system

EYE IN SKY TO COST £5m BY ALEX CAMPBELL

alex.campbell@thesentinel.co.uk

A CASH-STRAPPED council is to spend more than £5 million upgrading its network of CCTV cameras and building a data storage centre. Stoke-on-Trent City Council says its 220 spy cameras are out of date and too difficult to maintain. It is funding a £1 million upgrade for the cameras, while a further £4.4 million will be invested over five years to create and run the centre. It will incorporate a new CCTV control room, replacing the existing one in Regent Road, Hanley, and store back-up data for the entire authority. The council says its current data storage technology, in Swift House, Stoke, is “obsolete”. Steve Sankey, council

interim director of business services, said: “The CCTV system is at the end of its natural life. Equipment and technology has moved on.” It comes just seven months after the authority considered cutting the 24-hour monitoring of security cameras for eight hours every day to save £72,000 a year, or switching off the cameras completely. The council currently spends £330,000 a year and employs 14 staff monitoring its cameras. It said the existing analogue system depends on antiquated VHSstyle video recordings. And footage is displayed on a ‘video wall’ made up of dozens of old-fashioned box TVs. The investment comes as the authority cuts £36 million from its budget this year, shedding more than 700 jobs, while it will be

forced to find another £20 million in savings next year. Councillor Paul Shotton, deputy leader and cabinet member for resources, pictured left, said: “When I was first elected we were told it was a state-of-the-art system and one of the best in the UK. “Nine years later, we’ve got a poor system we haven’t invested in. We drastically need to update it.” Richard Day, for the City Centre Partnership, said he was pleased the council had changed its mind on cutting CCTV funding. He said: “CCTV gives added security to people coming into the city and confidence to investors who know it is being kept safe.” Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s cabinet was due to meet tonight to discuss the £5.4 million plan, which includes other “critical services” it has not identified.

But the discussion will be behind closed doors, as the council wants to keep the location of the new centre secret. Thousands of confidential data files will be stored there. Mr Shotton said: “The facility would be equipped to handle our data storage for years.” Daniel Hamilton, of privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: “Evidence for the ability of CCTV to deter or solve crimes is sketchy at best. “Residents will be outraged the council is intending to blow this much on a new CCTV network.”

Are the cameras value for money? Email us at letters@ thesentinel.co.uk

Families fight for green sites FAMILIES fighting to stop green space being swallowed up by new housing made a last-ditch plea to councillors to save the land from development. They staged a protest outside the meeting of Newcastle Borough Council, which proposed selling seven parcels of land it deemed “surplus” to requirements. Residents described to council members how the open areas were essential. See Page 4

Campaigners plan pool rise POOL campaigners battling to take over Tunstall baths have set out their own price guide and opening times for the facility. They aim to submit a business plan for the pool to Stoke-on-Trent City Council tomorrow. An increase in fees is proposed. However, the campaigners say that the revenue will be spent on maintaining the facility. See Page 15

PROPERTY

Hundreds of homes to consider: See inside

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01782333333 £3MINIMUMFARE TAXI ☎ 333333 PRIVATE HIRE Reporting local life since 1854 Hundreds of homes to consider: See inside BY ALEX CAMPB...

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