March 5, 2021

Newyddion Cymru Ar-Lein : Wales News Online

Newyddion Lleol a Chenedlaethol Cymru – Local and National News for Wales

CONCERNS that some areas in Blaenau Gwent are still not covered by CCTV cameras have been raised, despite an upgrade of a previous “outdated” system.

Blaenau Gwent council agreed to upgrade its CCTV network in October 2018, after it was revealed that only 27 of 63 cameras were working.

None were operational in Ebbw Vale, Brynmawr, Blaina or Cwm.

The council upgraded the system with new cameras, but the number was reduced from 63 to 32, plus four deployable cameras.

But the changes also saw the removal of 24/7 coverage with a cheaper, ‘record only’ system where evidence is retrieved at a later date.

Labour councillor Hedley McCarthy said the removal of 24/7 coverage makes Blaenau Gwent “the only borough in Gwent to not have this facility”.

Cllr McCarthy said there was still a lack of cameras in some areas of the borough, including the Nantyglo ward which he said had no CCTV coverage.

“The range of the cameras currently in place in not sufficient, as there is no operative to move the camera around and check the area, so this restricts the use of these cameras and the potential area coverage that the cameras could give,” he said.

Blaina ward councillor Lisa Winnett has raised “serious concerns” over the issue and said she was concerned over reports of recycling boxes and wheelie bins being stolen.

Figures obtained by Cllr Winnett – and seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service – show that in the last 10 months, residents requested 511 recycling receptacles and 132 wheelie bins in the Blaina ward alone.

Cllr Winnett said she believed the high number was due to thefts and that a better CCTV system could help tackle the issue.

“You cannot put a price on how these incidents are affecting my residents, and I have had countless residents scared as someone has been in their gardens stealing from their property,” she said.

Labour group leader, Cllr Steve Thomas, said there was “growing concern” over the issue and has called for the council to consider improving the system “to meet the needs of our constituents”.

But Brynmawr councillor Wayne Hodgins said the new system had improved the situation in his ward.

“The upgrade took place and it improved the situation because the previous system was not fit for purpose,” he said.

“The previous system was monitored by Newport council but it did not work and at one point in Brynmawr, there was no coverage.

“We could always do with more CCTV, but the local police who use the new system has had some positive results.”

A Blaenau Gwent council spokesman said that while CCTV is “a valuable tool to support community safety, crime prevention and detection”, there were also other measures which the authority “actively uses”.

The spokesman said:

“Following a detailed review, options for the future delivery of CCTV was considered and agreed by the council in October 2018.

“A number of alternatives were evaluated and these include ending the service and upgrading the service.

“The recommended option, supported by the police was an upgrade to provide a long-term CCTV service to restore the service borough-wide for the benefit of local residents and visitors.”

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