Sunday, 19 July 2009

CCTV Decision

Wrote before about hearing that the decision whether to install CCTV posts in Forest Fields had gone through, now the Executive Portfolio Decision made by Cllr Jon Collins has finally been posted on the Council's website.

Have a look at this bit from the supporting report -

"Residents asked that the whole of Forest Fields be consulted and that it went to a vote which was included in the second letter. Neighbourhood management are of the opinion that this has skewed the results as only one vote per household was allowed therefore biasing multiple occupancy households."

I don't know about you but to me that reads as though they are claiming that the consultation biased results in favour of multi occupancy households when of course the opposite would have been true. Pulling the wool over eyes or just badly written?

And have a look at this bit, I wasn't aware of this before -

"Concern has been expressed that 2 of the 3 proposed columns are outside mosques."

In response 'Equalities and Diversity' recommend -

"To work with the Muslim Communities Steering Group (MCSG), Safer Neighbourhood Teams, and the targeted communications strategy to tackle the negative perception."

Yeah, I'd do that.

A quick note about these portfolio decisions. A portfolio decision is one which has revenue implications of less than £500k or capital implications of less than £1m. The decision must also not affect 2 or more wards. If the decision does not fit in with these restrictions then it must be taken by the Executive Board unless it is one of the decisions that must be taken by full council as set out in the Council's constitution.

Clearly the idea behind delegation of authority in this manner is that large numbers of councillors' time is not taken up with making every single decision. Fair enough in principle, nothing would get done.

But as you can see it still leaves quite big decisions within the gift of one individual. And should the inner circle decide that a controversial policy (like CCTV) needs to be imposed with the minimum of democratic interference all they need to do is ensure it is rolled out on a ward by ward basis, thus making each individual decision a 'portfolio decision' to be taken by just one individual. Just saying.

Surely area committees should have some say over genuinely area specific decisions? Otherwise what's the point of them?


Anonymous said...

Right on the nail with your last question...

Area Committees; what's the point of them?

They seems like a good idea; an exercise in local democracy but they are much too easily marginalised or ignored unless they have a Collins, Chapman or someone similar on them.

Nottgirl said...

I knew the mosque in Forest Fields had complained that one of the CCTV cameras will be able to see who goes in and out of the mosque. The City Council and police have assured the mosque that there is no intention forv the CCTV cameras to be used for this.

I actually believe the City Council and the police about this. However I wouldn't be at all surprised if someone does use the CCTV cameras for this purpose.

After all, both our City Council and the police have been more than happy to use legislation for purposes for which it was not originally intended e.g. Iona School arrests.

Anonymous said...

In London the Mosque asked up to put town centre cameras up around it to protect it from attack. Councils run slow because of the amount of red tape and consultation. Something which could be done straight away could take years if you have to ask everyone to do anything.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to share Nottgirl's optimism about the possible use of the camera outside one of the mosques in Forest Fields but whether or not the City Council or police intend to use it to spy on Muslims, there is clearly the potential for this. And if the security services want to do so, neither the police nor city council will stop them.

Nottgirl said...

Hi Alanadale,

I don't think I was clear enough. What I meant was that I don't think the CCTV cameras will be put up with the intention that they will be used to monitor the mosque and who goes in there. However, I wouldn't be surprised if the cameras are actually used for this at some time in the future.

In terms of Area Committees, there is currently a review taking place of them.

Andy said...

Looking at some old minutes (yes I have too much time on my hands) I see the City Centre area committee 'approved' the A-boards silliness despite this intended to be a citywide decision.

Mind you its not clear if that meant it was a formal decision or simply a recommendation to whoever was to make the final decision (which as we know has been nixed anyway) but still, a discussion was more than the Area 4 committee got about CCTV.

BTW @anon, I'm quite comfortable about the basic principle of delegation as I think I said in my main piece but there is an issue of what is appropriate delegation. There is a bit of a democratic deficit about an issue that only affects one area being decided by someone that residents will never have a vote on. If the decision had been delegated to the area committee members would at least be mindful of the need to consider local opinion.

tgnc said...

As far as I was informed, to save money CCTV is turned off at weekends.

Andy said...

Tgnc, I would be amazed if that's true.