CHARITY shop owners hit by thieves claim moves to cut security in Uttoxeter represent an ‘open invitation to criminals’.
Borough bosses have launched proposals to axe CCTV cameras in town just months after the High Street shop owners called for more to be installed.
British Heart Foundation (BHF), Scope and YMCA, as well as Birds Expresso, were broken into and ransacked in May and made the plea soon afterwards.
However, after learning 11 cameras in town are under threat, they have now expressed fears of a repeat of May’s events.
Adele Homer, manager of Scope, said: “I genuinely can’t believe this. It’s absolutely shocking.
“Like I’ve said in the past, we need more cameras, not less, as a deterrent for people targeting shops on High Street.
“It’s an open invitation to those people as it’s all in the public domain and they’ll know the stores aren’t protected.
“I’m fearful this move will lead to a repeat of what happened to us and the other shops a few months ago.”
Christine Mellor, manager of YMCA, said: “We need cameras installed at the back of our shops, not being taken away.
“The one on the corner of the Maltings car park has its view blocked by the Mill Outlet so nobody will be able to see anything from that camera and we have no protection.
“I think it’s a really bad move to be removing cameras from town. People will know there’s nothing to stop them doing the front of our shops, let alone the back.
“I’m very disappointed with this. It’s just enticing criminals into the town.”
Cameras under threat include units in Bradley Street, two in the Maltings car park, Market Place, Trinity Road car park, three on the corner of Smithfield Road and three in the Fairfield Road car park.
East Staffordshire Borough Council’s CCTV system, in its current form, would reportedly cost the council £800,000 during the next three years.
The move follows government directives to use cameras only where there is a proven need.
Jo Alderson, manager of Birds Expresso, said: “Nine times out of ten the cameras we’ve got aren’t pointed in the right direction anyway and I understand local authorities are all having to cut costs at the minute.
“Having said that, it doesn’t take a genius to see that crime levels are only going to go one way if you cut security measures.
“The fact it’s been made public is almost a signal to criminals and I’d urge the council to reconsider. It’s a bit bizarre.”
Tory council cabinet member Julia Jessell, deputy leader for regulatory service, said: “By combining investment from our savings and focusing on our priority locations, we can ensure that we target the correct areas, providing more value for money to our residents whilst maintaining an efficient service.
“This is a valued service, as seen from our citizens’ survey, and we want to be able to ensure that we can continue to operate a good-quality service.
“These recommendations will allow the Council to adopt a more affordable and intelligent maintenance programme, seek contributions from partner organisations and ensure we provide value for money to our residents.”