This report reviews the Council’s Public Realm, Traffic Management and Car Park CCTV systems and provides commentary on the benefits of providing the service, the condition of the assets and recommendations for future service delivery.
In attendance: Paul Tovey (Solihull MBC - Head of Highway Management) and James McNeil (Solihull MBC - UTMC / CCTV Senior Engineer).
The Board considered a detailed report and presentation that provided an update and overview of the Council’s Public Realm, Traffic Management and Car Park CCTV systems. The report also included a commentary on the benefits of providing the service, the current condition of the assets and potential options for future service delivery.
In readiness for their consideration of the report, the Board had the opportunity to visit the Council’s Urban Traffic Control Centre and Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) Safer Travel Team and Regional Control Centre.
Having considered the report, the Board asked the following questions and/or made the following observations:
· The Chairman welcomed the existence of the current service provision, its value to the public realm, traffic management and overall general borough security. It was considered critical that the service was maintained going forwards and, where viable, coverage potentially extended to parks and public play areas.
· Cllr P Hogarth MBE echoed the sentiments of the Chairman and added that the contents of site visits undertaken, particularly, to Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) Safer Travel Team and Regional Control Centre was very impressive and gave huge reassurances towards public community safety. Cllr Hogarth also recalled a recent RTC which had been witnessed via the CCTV network and had prompted the rapid mobilisation of emergency and network repair support services. Cllr Hogarth supported the service being maintained and, where viable, improved and extended to other areas as deemed appropriate.
· Cllr G Sleigh stated that the current service was invaluable and that it should continue to be invested in over the coming years.
· Cllr A Feeney asked for further detail on the current criteria for service allocation and coverage positions, giving Smith’s Wood Ward (a priority policing zone) as an example. On the basis of the information provided in the report, there was no apparent public realm CCTV in that area. Officers advised that the current report covered the Council’s own CCTV system covering, in the main, much of south Solihull. Working in parallel with that was the large CCTV infrastructure maintained and operated by Solihull Community Housing. That system covered much of the north of the Borough, inclusive of tower blocks, public realm and door monitoring services. Officers also confirmed that the placement of CCTV was done via an evidence based appraisal and a business case approach to demonstrate that CCTV was most likely to be effective. Officers also drew Members attention to the Council’s own private town centre fibre network which was very cost effective to the service. Once CCTV provision was provided beyond the extent of that private network, service (5G) communication costs became very expensive and that then became a key consideration given the current financial pressures.
· Cllr S Sheshabhatter welcomed the report and the current service provision, particularly the wide extent of coverage with the northern and southern areas of the Borough and the siting criteria having regard to crime and ASB mapping. Officers added that no capital funding existed for CCTV service operation and maintenance, only revenue funding. Capital funding would need to be sought for new sites and appropriate bid/grant applications made where applicable. All current CCTV was located at fixed sites (rather than mobile), although the Council’s UTCC did have a small number of mobile units that could be deployed, as necessary, for traffic management purposes. Public realm mobile cameras had been withdrawn from service in recent years. Officers undertook to establish the reasons for this withdrawal with colleagues from the Public Realm Team outside of the meeting.
· Cllr B Groom asked what potential opportunities existed for additional/external funding for CCTV provision. Officers advised that some alternatives to capital funding might exist although the ongoing (5G) communication costs were the key consideration in any future expansion of the service. The Board was also advised that CCTV was not always the best solution to e.g. crime and ASB in some locations as the provision of CCTV just displaced the issue and did not tackle the underlying cause.
· Cllr M Carthew sought further detail on the extent of the Council’s current private fibre network and was advised that it was limited to the main town centre curtilage; everything beyond that boundary was/would have to be served on a public (but secure) 5G network.
That, the Board UNANIMOUSLY makes the following RECOMMENDATIONS to the Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Environment & Infrastructure:
That, subject to the observations and comments recorded in the preamble above, the Board:
(i) Welcomes the current extent of the CCTV service provision, acknowledging its importance towards, particularly, community safety and traffic management;
(ii) Supports the continued investment in (and retention of) the CCTV service;
(iii) Supports, where financially viable to do so, operational upgrades to the current infrastructure (e.g. analogue to digital equipment); and
(iv) Supports, where financially viable to do so, the inclusion of parks and play areas within the extent of CCTV coverage.