THATCHAM Town Council could be faced with additional costs when it switches the town’s CCTV cameras back on.
The town council has agreed, in principle, to spend £14,040 on bringing back the crime-fighting tool to the Broadway next month.
However, it now appears it could have to pay for the insurance and maintenance of the poles the cameras are situated on.
The poles, valued at £18,000, are owned by West Berkshire Council – which turned off the cameras in April last year as part of its budget cuts.
Speaking at a meeting last week, clerk Mel Alexander said that the town council would have complete liability if the poles were damaged.
Lee Dillon (Lib Dem, Thatcham north) questioned why the town council should be paying.
He said that one of the poles a camera was going to be attached to was on land that West Berkshire Council said it didn’t own.
“Can we find out who owns it? West Berkshire Council thinks it’s not theirs, but it’s their pole,” he said.
“Should we charge peppercorn rent for them having it there given that this council is taking on the costs of providing CCTV?” Mr Dillon added.
“West Berkshire Council has a duty for crime prevention. Shouldn’t it be on their insurance and not ours? I would have hoped that they could have contributed to that.”
“I think that’s a fair request,” replied town council leader Jason Collis (Con, Thatcham north).
“I think we ask the question whether we can get West Berkshire Council to pay it, but ultimately we want CCTV, so for now I think we just go ahead.
“I can’t imagine it [the rent] is going to be a lot to be honest. The point is whether that’s our land and we have decades of back rent to claim.”
Mr Dillon asked whether the agreement also covered maintenance of the poles, but was told that it didn’t specify.
“Again it’s their asset not ours. Can we get them to paint them?” he said. “We could get shafted with a £5,000 bill.”
Mr Collis replied: “I think there’s grounds because putting cameras on the top is not adding wear and tear on the pole.”
He suggested that the town council ask West Berkshire Council to maintain the poles.
“Although I hate deferring things it gives us more time to get the question answered,” he added.
When asked what would happen if a decision was deferred, town mayor Ellen Crumly (Con, Thatcham central) said that a group looking to tackle antisocial behaviour in the town would be unhappy if the cameras were delayed – because antisocial behaviour escalated during the summer months.
The town council’s CCTV scheme would include four 360-degree cameras in the Broadway and a wireless link to its offices.
A camera at the northern end of the Broadway would be able to view the High Street.