Westhoughton CCTV 'red tape' saga could go to parliament
THE ongoing saga over Westhoughton’s CCTV coverage could be raised in parliament — after Bolton West MP Julie Hilling agreed to look into the issue.
Westhoughton town council has asked Ms Hilling to help cut through the red tape that’s currently preventing councillors from monitoring faults with the town’s security cameras.
Ms Hilling said: “I’m very happy to support the town council in all of their work and I will see what I can do to support them in their efforts. I will investigate to see what the best way of advancing their cause is.”
The Bolton News found that four of the seven town council cameras in Market Street were not working at the time of an armed robbery at the Co-op store on January 6.
The town council said repairs, some dating back nearly a month, had not been carried out because of the festive season and “high winds” stopping engineers using a cherry picker.
At a subsequent meeting, Tory councillor Phil Ashcroft attacked the “appalling process” for reporting faults, which can leave problems unaddressed for up to three days when part-time town clerk Christine Morris is off work.
The town council has previously heard that elected members cannot monitor CCTV as they could be susceptible to “corruption, bribery or malpractice”.
In a letter to Ms Hilling, councillors argue that the Local Government Act 1972 is stopping members acting “in the best interests of the community”.
The act states that “functions and duties of the town clerk cannot legally be discharged to individual town councillors”.
The letter, signed by Cllr Christopher Peacock, chairman of the council, reads: “As a town council with no full time employee, it has been raised that it would be beneficial to allow individual town councillors to support the town clerk in her duties. However, the law firmly forbids such a discharge of functions.
“Will you please investigate this situation, raise the matter with the government and ask if it will change the legislation in order to allow us to work in the best interests of our community?”
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