THE leader of Westhoughton Town Council has been told he cannot monitor CCTV camera faults in an emergency — so he is not susceptible to “bribery, corruption or malpractice”.
A report into the procedure for reporting faults was distributed to members by town clerk Christine Morris at a council meeting on Monday night.
Cllr Phil Ashcroft criticised the report for failing to provide “satisfactory answers”.
He had requested the report be compiled and urged emergency procedures to be incorporated to allow council leader Cllr David Chadwick to monitor faults when part-time Ms Morris is not at work.
The report says only the town clerk — who works 18 hours a week — is legally entitled to sanction repairs to cameras on behalf of the council.
It further states: “It would be illegal for the leader of the council, or any town councillor, to authorise any repairs.
“This legal requirement is in place to protect the reputation of town councillors and to prevent any suggestion of bribery, corruption or malpractice.
“Therefore there can be no deviation from the current procedure.”
The issue came to prominence when it emerged that four of the seven cameras positioned in Market Street were not working at the time of an armed robbery at the Co-op store on January 6.
Faults, some of which dated back more than a month, had not been addressed earlier because of the festive season and “high winds” preventing engineers using a cherry picker on a visit on December 20, according to the town council.
Cllr Ashcroft said: “The explanation the town council puts in the report is not satisfactory.
“I would like to be directed to the law that says councillors doing this type of work would be illegal. This is political correctness gone mad and, unless we can make changes, the CCTV cameras are not providing value for money.”
Cllr Chadwick said: “I am told I cannot take over the role Cllr Ashcroft is asking for as we could be accused of favouritism.
“For a town the size of Westhoughton to have these cameras paid for by the council is fantastic.
“To have a full-time employee would significantly increase the town council’s budget, which we are always striving to keep at a reasonable level.”
Westhoughton Town Council has funded CCTV cameras in the town since 1999.
Cllr Ashcroft demanded that CCTV faults be debated again at the next town council meeting on April 28.