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

Galashiels councillor Harry Scott (Ind), a retired police officer, wants the council to rule out allowing the CCTV network in the Borders to fall into disrepair. 

As we reported last week, council officers have revealed that the CCTV networks are “no longer fit for purpose” and told councillors that neither the local authority, nor the police, can afford to install and maintain CCTV in public spaces.

Currently, 19 of the council’s 70 CCTV cameras are not functional, but officers have also warned that this is likely to increase and some already have intermittent faults.

At a meeting of Scottish Borders Council last Wednesday, officers asked councillors to approve the recommendations of a report which sought to consult 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 councillor Scott has taken umbrage with. 

Councillor Scott called for the option to 'do nothing' to be removed, adding: “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 are not being neglected.

“While I will accept that blanket coverage in the Scottish Borders is no longer affordable, there are now modern 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 with 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 (Ind) warned the chamber not to accept Councillor Scott’s amendments: “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 Scottish Borders requires CCTV to maintain its communities and to maintain safety.”

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