Yesterday, at the Economic & Environmental Scrutiny Committee meeting, one of the pre-scrutiny items for members to discuss on the agenda was the re-assessment of the CCTV vehicle. The concept of pre-scrutiny was introduced after the May elections in order to allow members to input their ideas, comment and make revisions before a final paper is tabled at cabinet.
Since the vehicles introduction since July 2011, it was always intended that after two years in operation the CCTV vehicles would be subject to a review but following concerns raised by some I decided to bring forward the review after a year in operation. It was generally a good debate with many constructive comments and suggestions including proposals by some of its fiercest critics to extend its hours of operation.
Although not part of the paper, I even floated the idea of further transparency of the CCTV vehicles by canvassing opinion of the scrutiny members on the idea of publicising the routes and areas the CCTV car operates allowing members to put forward suggestions as to where and where not the CCTV vehicle should operate. This suggestion had the full backing of the scrutiny committee and will be incorporated into the full report which will be decided by cabinet.
Whilst the report was welcomed and fully supported by members from all of the groups it sadly still didn't seem to satisfy the Shoeburyness Independent Party serial bandwagon jumper Cllr Anne Chalk. Despite the report stipulating that the primary purpose of the CCTV vehicles were not to raise revenue and that they were not deliberately targeting certain areas and accepted by the committee, it still did not stop Cllr Chalk claiming so. The drivel that the scrutiny committee and the poor soles in the public gallery were subject to can be found here.
It was clear that her main gripe was the vehicle patrolling Shoebury High Street and can only presume that is because she lives there. To here credit, she didn't say I was wrong when I pointed out the absurdity of her not wanting the CCTV vehicle in Shoebury High Street but has her party colleague criticising the council for the vehicle not stopping to catch a motorist parked on double yellow lines in a neighbouring road.
I was however branded sarcastic when I mentioned that she had asked for the CCTV vehicle to be deployed on East Beach to monitor noise nuisance which is clearly outside of the powers as prescribed in law by the DfT.
During a break in proceedings, a resident in the public gallery quipped that Cllr Chalk's comments reminded them of the famous Albert Einstein quote Insanity is doing the same things over and over again expecting to get different results.
A quick check this evening on Cllr Chalk's blog reveals that since the site went live in March of this year, 13% of her posts have related to the CCTV vehicle and it being a revenue raiser and unfairly targeting Shoebury High Street. This is clearly her most favourite subject by some distance. With this in mind it could be enough to make some think.