Upgrading or replacing Borders’ CCTV network wouldn’t be value for money, councillors told

Galashiels councillor Harry Scott.
Galashiels councillor Harry Scott.

A plea to save the region’s CCTV network has been voted down at a full meeting of Scottish Borders Council. 

Galashiels councillor Harry Scott, a retired police officer, wants the council to rule out allowing the closed-circuit TV network in the Borders to fall into disrepair. 

Council officers recently revealed that CCTV networks here are no longer fit for purpose and told councillors that neither the local authority nor the police can afford to maintain or replace them.

Currently, 19 of the council’s 70 CCTV cameras are out of order, and officers have warned councillors that that number will only increase.

At a meeting of the council yesterday, July 26, officers asked councillors to approve the recommendations of a report calling for consultations with various stakeholders such as Police Scotland and community partnerships.

However, the report also asked councillors to note that “officers believe that expenditure on new CCTV systems will not provide value for money”, something Mr Scott took umbrage with. 

He asked for that to be removed and asked that the option to do nothing with the CCTV network be taken out too, saying: “The health, safety, and wellbeing of its population are the prime responsibilities of any local authority, and that includes the prevention and detection of crime. 

“The installation and maintenance of CCTV systems is part of that in today’s modern world and it is only right that Scottish Borders Council leads by example. 

“What formula was used to define what value for money means, and what are the qualifications of the people coming to that conclusion?

“What value can be placed on the health, safety and wellbeing of our constituents?

“Our public need the assurance that those prime responsibilities I mentioned are not being neglected.

“While I will accept that blanket coverage in the Borders is no longer affordable, there are now portable CCTV systems which are affordable and which could easily be deployed on a temporary or permanent basis to monitor areas where there may be issues of public disorder, fly-tipping and dog fouling.

“I strongly support a review, which I trust will present viable options to modernise the current system.

“This must not be hampered by the we-have-no-money line so that our CCTV, which is an essential contributor to public safety, can have a suitable and fit-for-purpose successor.”

However, Selkirkshire councillor Gordon Edgar advised the chamber not to accept those amendments, saying: “When I first read the paper, I was of the opinion that we should take no further action, but now I am of the opinion that we need to gather as much information as possible first.

“When these systems were put in place, one of the things they didn’t do was implement a maintenance regime. That’s why they are in the state they are.

“I’m not of the opinion that the Borders requires CCTV to maintain its communities and to maintain safety.”

Mr Scott’s amendments were voted down by 16 votes to 13, with councillors opting to acknowledge that officers do not believe the systems represent value for money and that doing nothing remains an option moving forward.