Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Setback over cost of CCTV at skate park recreation ground

Setback over cost of CCTV at skate park recreation ground

PLANS to install CCTV in Makins recreation ground Henley have suffered a setback because the area’s crime problem is not serious enough.

The town council is considering buying cameras in time for the opening of the new £290,000 skate park in late summer.

The move is in response to concerns about antisocial behaviour. Last month vandals damaged buildings, fencing and equipment at Brunner Hall, the home of Headway Thames Valley, which is nearby.

But South Oxfordshire District Council is unlikely to contribute to the cost of new cameras unless there is a “pressing need”, which means there would have to be a persistent problem with crime or antisocial behaviour at the recreation ground.

Town clerk Janet Wheeler told a meeting of the council’s recreations and amenities committee: “The district council doesn’t run around the county throwing up CCTV on a whim. It has to be very sure an area requires it.

“That means there is a crime problem in that area and it needs surveillance. Reading between the lines, they don’t think Makins has that.”

There are currently 17 CCTV cameras in Henley town centre, a third of which are funded by the town council and the rest by the district council and Thames Valley Police. There are another three in Mill Meadows funded by the town council only.

The cameras are monitored by the district council from Abingdon police station.

Mrs Wheeler said: “If the district council does say there’s not a crime problem at Makins it’s unlikely to agree to us putting in another camera which links with Abingdon.

“If we decide there is a need for CCTV we have to be in charge. We have to pay a private company to monitor or do it and the data protection that comes with it ourselves.”

She suggested finding out which company operates the CCTV cameras at the scout hut in the recreation ground, adding: “It might be cheaper to use them because they have the infrastructure there already.”

Mayor-elect Will Hamilton said: “What the scouts have is ‘CCTV lite’. We need a balance between that and Mill Meadows, which is ‘CCTV heavy’.”

Meanwhile, the council has agreed to install a water tap near the new skate park at a cost of up to £1,700.

The tap would be used for watering new trees and washing down the skate park in emergencies but would not be for the use of skaters to drink from.

Mrs Wheeler said she believed skaters should bring water with them despite a suggestion by scout leader Dave Adamson that the tap should be available to them.

She said: “Dave is very much of the view that kids need water. The vandalism at Headway was done in part because they needed water and got access to the tap.”

Councillor Hamilton said: “We should have a lockable tap for the minute and see where we get to. Given the problems we have had at Makins, it’s the way forward.”

Councillor David Nimmo Smith said: “When I was doing research for the skate park I went to five or six others in the area and none of them had taps.

“If we do have a tap it should be a percussion one that goes off when you take your hand off it.”

Councillor David Eggleton said making drinking water available could lead to skaters asking to use the toilets at the Saracen’s Head pub in Greys Road, which was already a problem.

Councillor Sam Evans said the provision of toilets could be explored in the future, adding: “As far as the pub is concerned, that’s for him to police like any other landlord.”

Councillor Simon Smith said: “It’s not far to Greys Road car park [toilets] by skateboard!

“I don’t agree to Henley Town Council paying for a tap. I believe it should have always been in the Henley Skatepark Initiative’s budget. The more water we provide the more toilets are needed.”

Mrs Wheeler and the council’s parks team manager Gareth Bartle will now look at tap designs and find a contractor to install a suitable one.

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