FAULTY CCTV cameras which could help police investigate a terrifying armed raid has not been fixed — because of high winds.
Robbers burst into the Co-op in Market Street, Westhoughton, armed with a bat and a screwdriver. They dragged a female shop assistant across the floor by her hair — tearing out lumps — before kicking her in the ribs and fleeing with cigarettes and cash.
The four CCTV cameras close to the shop, could have captured crucial footage of the raid at 10pm on January 6.
But repairs to two cameras — and the installation of two new ones which Westhoughton Town Council approved funding for at a meeting on December 9 — had been put on hold.
Westhoughton Town Council said Christmas and New Year had delayed the work but also “high wind and gales”.
A Town Council spokesman said: “The first new camera was to be fitted just before Christmas but due to the high wind and gales, is was unsafe to use a cherry picker.
“Obviously, there was then the delay of Christmas and New Year.
“When the CCTV engineer came to fit the two new CCTV cameras in January, he also checked the cameras and corrected the two which were not operating properly.”
Another camera on the Post Office building opposite was working but had panned round and was facing the wrong way at the time of the robbery.
Witnesses said the robbers fled from the store in a dark Vauxhall estate car, and some of the faulty cameras may have been able to capture the escape — had they been working.
In the aftermath of the Co-op raid, Cllr Christopher Peacock, for Westhoughton North and Chew Moor, said the town council would help police with footage from recently installed CCTV cameras.
He added it would not be appropriate for him to comment on the reasons for the delay in the cameras being repaired.
Town councillor Cllr David Wilkinson voiced concerns that repairs had not been carried more quickly as it had been revealed the cameras were faulty at a public meeting about a month before the Co-op robbery.
Cllr Andy Morgan, for Hulton, who has questioned whether town councils are financially worthwhile, said repairs should have been done “as soon as physically possible”, given that Betfred in Market Street was also victim to an armed robbery two days earlier.
He added: “The town council argues the fact that they are paying for this CCTV and uses it as justification for their precept.
“It meant a poor woman at the Co-op went through a terrifying ordeal, and the cameras that could have been so important to the police were still not on.”
The faults with all four cameras had been reported to Westhoughton Town Council by the monitoring station.
Cllr Wilkinson said: “We should review the whole process of repairing cameras and reporting incidents to do with them.
“The purchase of new cameras, and discussion the old ones, was mentioned in open session and rightly reported on.
“The fact these cameras were left not functioning for weeks after this despite the information being in the public domain is concerning.
“It may have given ideas to criminal elements of the community who have heard about it.”
But Cllr Peacock added: “I appreciate it’s a difficult one, but I don’t seriously think that the people behind this acted knowing any of these cameras were in need of repair.
“This is not the reason this incident took place.”
The police declined to comment on the matter given investigations are ongoing and have so far made no arrests.