A ROW has erupted between Labour and the Conservatives over the long-running saga of monitoring faults with Westhoughton’s CCTV cameras.
Cllr Phil Ashcroft, Conservative town councillor for White Horse, said it was “abhorrent” that emergency procedures cannot be put in place, adding that the cameras offer no “value for money” to ratepayers.
But Labour town council leader Cllr David Chadwick said it was unfair for the cameras to be deemed a failure, and questioned whether the concerns were part of a Conservative mission to “do away with” town councils.
The dispute centres on claims it would be “illegal” for members to sanction any camera repairs, with only part-time town clerk Christine Morris, who works just 18 hours a week, having the power to commission work.
Westhoughton Town Council spent £20,000 on CCTV cameras during the last financial year, but several days can pass before faults are reported if Ms Morris is away from work.
Cllr Phil Ashcroft, for White Horse, said at a council meeting this week: “It is absolutely stupid that we are all elected members but the position of the town clerk is more important than ours.
“I don’t think it is giving any value to the people of Westhoughton.”
He requested a breakdown of when each camera is operational in the town clerk’s January, 2015 budget so the council can debate whether they provide value for money.
During the meeting, Ms Morris told the chamber that faults were reported to her via telephone, and she picks them up when she is next in work.
Cllr David Chadwick, town council leader, said: “I think it is very unfair of Phil to take the view that the cameras have failed.
“I do not understand — clearly the Conservatives want to do away with town councils.”
He added that the police think the cameras are worthwhile, requesting them to be fixed on banks when large cash deliveries are being made.
The CCTV issue came to light when The Bolton News revealed that four of the seven cameras in Market Street were not working at the time of a robbery at the Co-op store on January 6.