CCTV cameras and community wardens axed in South Tyneside

The number of CCTV cameras and community wardens in South Tyneside will be cut as council bosses struggle to balance the books.

Friday, 1st March 2019, 3:41 pm
Updated Friday, 1st March 2019, 3:47 pm

South Tyneside Council has agreed its 2019/20 budget which included a 3.95% hike in council tax.

The authority says it is bidding to save £12million while meeting an increasing demand in services for vulnerable adults and children.

Lead member for innovation and resources, Coun Ed Malcolm, said the council had to “transform and change” to meet demands.

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This included reducing services that are “no longer sustainable” and working with the community and voluntary sector to deliver services.

While the budget introduced cash injections for roads, housing, welfare support and community area forums, other services have taken the brunt of cuts.

This includes plans to scrap the community warden service – a team of six who respond to low-level anti-social behaviour issues in the borough.

Coun Malcolm said: “We appreciate the work that the wardens have done, however it’s a service which is just not affordable.

“At its height there were around 20 wardens in South Tyneside funded by the long gone ‘Neighbourhood Renewal Fund.’

“To our credit, this council continued to pay for the service after the fund stopped.”

Another service on the chopping block includes CCTV cameras in the borough which will be reduced by half.

Coun Malcolm stressed that the changes would not have an impact on community safety.

He said: “We take our responsibilities for community safety very seriously and very conscientiously and crime in South Tyneside is historically low.

“We currently have 109 cameras. The proposal is to reduce the number of cameras by half, however fixed cameras will remain in areas that they’re most needed such as town centres, and there will be an increase in the use of mobile cameras.”

He added: “We will work with the police to ensure there is sufficient coverage in the borough and we’re confident that the planned reduction of CCTV cameras will not have a detrimental effect on the community safety.”

The meeting heard the changes were being made due to the continuation of government grant cuts with the council having to save £168million since 2010.

Inspector Phil Baker, of Northumbria Police, speaking after the meeting, said the police would continue to deliver for South Tyneside residents.

“Every day our officers are out on the streets tackling and preventing crime, pursuing offenders and protecting the public,” he said.

“We will continue to work closely with our partners at South Tyneside Council and continue to deliver effective policing to address the priorities set out by local residents in the Police and Crime plan.”

Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service