Views being sought on future of Borders’ CCTV network

Councillor Gordon Edgar in one of the eight Borders town centres covered by CCTV at the moment, Selkirk's.
Councillor Gordon Edgar in one of the eight Borders town centres covered by CCTV at the moment, Selkirk's.

A choice of letting the region’s failing closed-circuit TV camera network continue to fall into disrepair until it has to be scrapped or spending about £1m on replacing it is being put to Borderers.

A consultation on the future of Scottish Borders Council’s 50-plus CCTV cameras is now under way and will run until Thursday, October 31, and the response it gets will help decide their fate.

Council officers revealed in April that the camera network is no longer considered fit for purpose and told councillors that neither the local authority nor Police Scotland could afford to update it.

Out of the council’s 70 CCTV cameras, all operated by the police, 19 don’t work at the moment, and some of those that do are already intermittently faulty. They cover Duns, Eyemouth, Galashiels, Hawick, Kelso, Melrose, Peebles and Selkirk.

Officers initially asked councillors to allow the CCTV network to continue falling into disrepair until it has to be written off to save the council the £40,000 a year it currently spends on maintaining it.

A report by the council’s director for assets and infrastructure, Martin Joyce, told them: “The council currently meets all ongoing revenue costs, including energy consumption, telecoms charges, consumable items and annual charges from the contractors that provide maintenance support.

“The council’s current position with regard to CCTV provision is not to install new CCTV equipment or replace life-expired systems but to continue to maintain the current asset within the existing revenue budget until they are beyond economic repair.

“Work undertaken in 2018 indicated that the likely total capital cost of replacement, on a like-for-like basis, while utilising more modern digital technologies, could be in the region of £600,000.

“There would be potentially additional costs associated with related civil works and infrastructure in the region of £250,000.

“A follow-up report could update and validate this figure to present-day costs. However, given the anticipated capital expenditure of circa £1m, plus a requirement for future ongoing enhanced revenue expenditure, officers do not believe that this will provide value for money.

“In addition, there is currently no identified budget, either capital or revenue.”

At a full council meeting in May, though, Tweeddale East councillor Stuart Bell put forward a motion calling on officers to explore options for retaining the CCTV network, leading to the present public consultation period.

The council’s executive member for roads and infrastructure, Selkirkshire councillor Gordon Edgar, said: “We know that CCTV can be a useful tool for the police and communities in terms of public safety. However, we also know that for the cameras to contribute to creating safe environments in our towns, the technology needs to be kept up to date. 

“With a growing demand for our services, and budget constraints, the council must consider whether replacing the current system is value for money and what other options are available. 

“In order for the council to make a fully informed decision, we need the views of the public and would encourage residents, businesses and community groups to take part in our consultation before the October 31 deadline.”

The council’s CCTV survey can be found at scotborders.citizenspace.com

A decision is likely to be made in December.