Ramzy Alwakeel, Reporter
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
The council will not install CCTV cameras in Rainham town centre, it was decided at Havering Town Hall last week.
Cllr Jeffrey Tucker’s motion before the full council on Wednesday, January 30, that cameras be set up in the area came with the support of a 40-strong public gallery.
But in a debate lasting nearly two hours, councillors from the Conservative group argued there was neither the cash nor any pressing need for the measure.
“CCTV cameras do help drive down crime and antisocial behaviour,” said Cllr Lesley Kelly (Conservative, Harold Wood), “but funding is in very short supply and what we do have needs to be directed where it’s needed most.
“Crime stats for 2012 indicated Rainham and Wennington is the seventh safest ward in the borough. Rainham town centre isn’t the crime hotspot [the local councillors] paint it as.”
In his opening speech, Cllr Tucker made reference to a string of violent crimes in the area, including the murder of Petras Miernykas in a New Road warehouse, the discovery of a dead baby in 2011 and recent armed robberies in local shops.
“Every shop in Rainham has been burgled at least once,” he added, accusing the administration of being “biased against Rainham residents”.
Some of the affected shopkeepers were sat in the public gallery, cheering each time Cllr Tucker and his colleagues spoke.
But deputy leader Cllr Steven Kelly (Conservative, Emerson Park) said CCTV shouldn’t be installed purely to protect businesses.
“Our CCTV is for the safety of the people in the borough, not necessarily for the safety of the shopkeepers,” he said.
“If there’s a real problem, they [shopkeepers] should buy their own [CCTV].”
As the debate came to a close, leader of the opposition Cllr Clarence Barrett (Residents’ Association, Cranham) criticised both sides – the IRG for failing to present a business case to support their proposal, and the administration for failing to give a constructive response.
“I wonder what people at home are thinking when they see these debates,” he said. “It’s like a badly written pantomime where Dick Whittington meets Peter Pan.
“I’d love to see the amendments by the administration be a bit more specific – saying what they will do, instead of a general mish-mash.”
The Tory amendment – simply to note “the success of CCTV cameras in Havering” and, when funding became available, to prioritise areas where crime stats showed need was greatest – was carried by 31 votes to 12.