Lack of surveillance putting shoppers off Rhyl, retailers claim

Reporter:

Duncan Rieder

Retailers in Rhyl say people are being put from shopping in the town because unmonitored CCTV surveillance systems are raising fears of crime.

Business leaders met with councillors last Friday to discuss falling footfall in the town, with many blaming the fact that the CCTV system was operated from across the border in Chester with images being recorded instead of being continously monitored.

John Bellis, chairman of Rhyl Business Group, said: “A number of retailers attended the meeting and felt footfall is falling because customers are afraid of crime.

“Rhyl is suffering because of our crime image, and retailers worry that CCTV is no longer an active deterrent.

“We were told that the CCTV cameras aren’t being monitored in Chester at this time, but the camera being operational is supposed to be that deterrent.”

Town and county councillor Brian Blakeley, who represents Rhyl South East ward, said: “The CCTV only being recorded has caused a political stink.

“There’s no easy solution when the county council and police funding are continually cut by the government, but once the North Wales Police had to cut their contribution to the budget, it all went downhill from there.

“We all take regenerating the town very seriously, but it had just become a game of football between the council and the police. Sadly, the next best thing we can do is form partnerships.”

North Wales Police have elected to move surveillance out of the country as part of a partnership – began in April last year – with Denbighshire County Council and three of the largest town councils.

A spokesman for Denbighshire County Council said: “The priority for the partnership is to continue to improve the service and make it more resilient and sustainable.

”A big part of this is to commence its partnership with Cheshire West and Chester Council. All cameras in the Rhyl, Prestatyn and Rhuddlan will be overseen in Chester.

“All partners within the partnership are happy with the current service.”

But Mr Bellis countered: “If in Chester, there is someone there 24/7 supervising cameras, and who’s able to move them if they’re pointing the wrong way, that’s one thing.

“But unless we’re lucky, and the cameras just happen to be pointing at the right place, how can we expect the community and the council to tackle anti-social behaviour, drug taking and crime? ”

Cllr Blakeley agreed: “My feeling is that it does hamper apprehending criminals if it allows them extra time to get away, particularly if the police can’t replay a recording until the next day in Chester.”

The partnership is currently awaiting confirmation of a grant for £100,000 from the Welsh Assembly Government to replace the CCTV system’s aged server.

Email:

duncan.rieder@nwn.co.uk

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