Business owners furious at plans to pay for new CCTV system across Lincolnshire
Businesses are furious at "ridiculous" plans for them to pay towards a new state-of-the-art CCTV system across the whole of Lincolnshire.
Pubs, clubs and restaurants would pay the bulk of the cost towards the wireless cameras.
The county's new Police and Crime Commissioner, Alan Hardwick, says street security is mainly a night-time problem.
He claims shutting existing CCTV control rooms would improve public safety, save money and lead to wider coverage.
But hard-pressed pub managers says they are already over-taxed and have branded the idea "ridiculous".
Mr Hardwick said: "People who make money from the night-time economy all over Lincolnshire should be prepared to contribute towards the cost of policing it.
"In Lincolnshire we have lots of different CCTV systems which, in many cases, are very
expensive because they use technology which is not up to date.
"The saving from the new system, I'm hoping, would be significant, but it needs agreement with those people that operate the systems at the moment.
"I have not even begun to cost it. I know that the cost of the external CCTV system throughout Lincolnshire is a touch over £1 million.
"External CCTV would be open to all businesses, including shops and the evening economy businesses."
But Pubwatch chairman Paul Oloo, manager of Pulse, Ritzy and Jumpin' Jaks nightclubs in Lincoln, said: "We already pay the Lincoln BIG levy and business rates and we are probably the most taxed business sector.
"I appreciate the commissioner is trying to make things work with limited resources but to be asked to pay extra for something we already pay for is a bit ridiculous. That's the sentiment of all 44 members of our Pubwatch scheme." At present, the City of Lincoln Council pays the £300,000 annual cost of running CCTV in the city centre. On top of this, Lincoln's warden scheme costs about £60,000 a year and up to eight wardens patrol at weekends.
Mr Hardwick is also reviewing funding for these street wardens – but insists he is keen to learn more about their role and has yet to reach any decision.
Matt Corrigan, chief executive of Lincoln Business Improvement Group, said street wardens are vital to the good management of the evening economy.
"We are due to meet Mr Hardwick and we are really looking forward to having a discussion with him," he said.
Most county households will pay around 6p extra a week in council tax for policing in 2013-14.