A CCTV camera has been installed on Herne Bay seafront to deter beach hut vandals – but only for six weeks. The temporary measure was put in place after concerns about vandalism and arson attempts were expressed. The seafront at Western Esplanade has long been a target for anti-social behaviour and criminal damage, with countless crimes reported in recent years.
The council has knocked back hut owners’ pleas for a permanent camera, blaming a lack of money in the budget. But last week it installed one of its three mobile cameras on a lamppost in Western Esplanade. It’s hoped the device – which was used at the same site last year – will deter would-be vandals and yobs from causing havoc during the summer holidays. Herne Bay Beach Hut Owners’ Association chairman Andrew Cook said:
“We certainly welcome it back. As soon as it went up last time the aggravation stopped, and as soon as it was taken down it started up again. But we would like to see two or three permanent cameras along this stretch. If I had my way they’d cover all the way along to Hampton. I’m positive in thinking something could happen.”
Police community officer Mike Keam – a designated beach watchdog – added:
“It’s good that we have the camera here. It will certainly act as a deterrent. If people are stupid and want to do something in front of it, we get to see what they’re doing and catch them.”
The camera will be operated by city council CCTV staff, who will alert the police to any illicit activity The council’s mobile camera chief Ray Aziz said:
“We try and put the cameras where they are needed. The idea is that it acts as a deterrent and also as a monitoring resource for the council and police. We hope its presence will provide beach hut owners with some reassurance.”
Mr Aziz said a permanent camera could cost between £10,000 and £25,000. The proposal will be discussed in September by councillors overseeing the budget.
HB Gazette 15th July 2010