CCTV task group set up

MOVES to install crime-busting CCTV to improve public safety on the streets of Felixstowe took a big step forward today with the creation of a task group.

MOVES to install crime-busting CCTV to improve public safety on the streets of Felixstowe took a big step forward today with the creation of a task group.

The group is being charged with setting up a pilot project as quickly as possible in the hope that if it is successful, the resort could get a full-blown scheme later.

Police are fully behind the venture and it is hoped the resort's business community will also back it.

The aim will be to use a small number of strategically-placed cameras along with those already operated by businesses around the town for their own protection.

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Councillors have been turned down by the government for cash grants for a scheme for Felixstowe and Suffolk Coastal council says it cannot afford to put one in place without Whitehall help.

More than 1,000 people in the seaside town have already signed a petition calling for closed-circuit television following a rash of vandalism in the town centre and seafront, and fights and intimidation by gangs of youths.

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However, the last CCTV scheme drawn up for Felixstowe cost £367,000 – less than the previous project – for eight cameras in Hamilton Road, ten on the seafront and two on the A14.

Chris Slemmings, chairman of the town council's finance and general purposes committee, said the task group would be asked to find a "practicable and viable project" as quickly as possible.

"If we cannot have the all-singing, all-dancing scheme because of the cost, then we have to look at the best alternative and find a community-based scheme, including using some available cameras," he said.

"The police are very positive about it and offered us their technical expertise, and there may be some sources of funding available to us which the task group will need to explore."

Councillors Doreen Savage, Barry Gillings, Malcolm Minns, Andy Smith, Marian Pettit and Mike Stokell have already volunteered to serve on the group.

Felixstowe police commander Inspector Andy Bushell, and representatives from the chamber of trade and crime and disorder partnership are also to be invited.

District council officials say lack of funding is the prime reason for not being able to install CCTV, but also point out that a number of initiatives in Felixstowe have been successful in cutting vandalism and rowdiness on the seafront.

In particular, the launch of the Nightsafe project this year helped cut the number of disorder incidents during July from 32 last year to 25. Some people have been banned from all clubs and pubs in the town and a radio link has been set up between licensed premises as an early warning system for trouble.

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