LISBURN CCTV SCREENS COULD GO BLANK IN FUNDING CRISIS

LISBURN Councillor Paul Givan has warned that the future of CCTV cameras right across the city is in jeopardy after the organisation responsible - Lisburn Commerce Against Crime (LCAC) - highlighted a shortfall in funding in the next financial year.

Mr Givan, who sits on the Economic Development Committee, said failure to meet the shortfall could lead to the cameras being switched off.

"Such a scenario would be hugely damaging to the vitality of the centre of Lisburn" he warned. "The benefits of having CCTV are very clear and have led to the arrests of many individuals engaged in vandalism as well as providing confidence to shoppers and retailers."

At this week's monthly council meeting Mr Givan said the PSNI, local retailers and the Northern Ireland Office should all be putting money into the scheme so the cost did not fall exclusively to the Council.

"The Council want the cameras to continue" Mr Givan said. "We do not have the legislative basis to take over the running of the cameras but we can provide assistance and have done so over the years; indeed the Economic Development Committee agreed to provide an additional 20,000 next year which would bring the Council's total contribution to 100,000 which is very substantial, but it requires retailers, PSNI and the NIO to play their part and I appeal to them to assist Lisburn Commerce Against Crime."

He continued: "The CCTV cameras are currently monitored 24 hours a day and the Council is of the clear view that the PSNI benefit greatly from the them and should be making a contribution to the running costs. As a member of the DPP I recognise the important role these cameras have and at a time when the police are suffering losses in manpower they provide value for money and the PSNI should step up to the mark and assist. I understand however they have refused an application for 27,000 which is disappointing and I intend raising the matter with them."

Councillor Allan Ewart agreed the police should provide more funding.

"The increase in police on the beat that would be needed if the CCTV cameras were not in operation would eat significantly into the police budget, so I would have thought the police would be only to happy to help fund Lisburn Commerce Against Crime, but this does not appear to be the case" he said.

"There is still a shortfall next year of approximately 50,000. Funding will need to be secured for this or the CCTV system will have to be shut down and no one would want to contemplate the consequences this would have for the City of Lisburn."

Lagan Valley MP Mr Jeffrey Donaldson told the Council he had secured a meeting with Minister of State Paul Goggins to discuss the issue and hoped to be discussing the issues with PSNI representatives to see if they will increase their contribution.

He said: "THE LCAC does an excellent job in driving down the level of crime in the city centre.

"It would be a shame if the progress made would be lost."