Subway CCTV hit by cash shortage

Sarah Boyack is campaigning for more cameras

Sarah Boyack is campaigning for more cameras

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ADDITIONAL CCTV will not be installed at one of the city’s most notorious underpasses because the council says there are no funds available to cover the cost.

A campaign for improved security measures at the Telfer Subway, linking Fountainbridge and Dalry, was launched following a number of serious incidents, including a rape and an assault.

But with extra cameras costing £25,000 each, plus ongoing monitoring costs, campaigners have been told there is no money to step up security.

Mike Avery, the city’s south west neighbourhood manager, said: “With the difficult funding position facing the council, this is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.”

Entrances to the subway – in Dundee Street and Caledonian Crescent – are already covered by security cameras serving the wider neighbourhood, but Lothians Labour MSP Sarah Boyack, who launched the campaign, believes the coverage is not adequate.

She said: “The cameras they claim cover the area are too far away, don’t cover all access routes and are not trained solely on the subway.”

Last month, the News reported how a teenage girl was pinned against a wall for ten minutes as a group of thugs punched and kicked her boyfriend, Michael Tait, 24, unconscious and stole an iPhone. Police are still investigating.

There was also a spate of attempted knifepoint robberies in the area in October.

In February 2009, a 24-year-old Australian woman was raped after she had just passed through the subway.

Like many residents, Maria Kelly, chairwoman of Gorgie Dalry Community Council, has stopped using the subway because of safety fears.

She said: “Lots of women are really not comfortable walking through it, which is a sad state of affairs. The cameras they talk about are not constantly focused on the subway, so there is no guarantee.”

In a letter to Ms Boyack, Mr Avery said: “The Telfer Subway southern entrance is currently covered by an existing camera from the Fountain Park complex and a council monitored camera covers the north entrance from Dalry Road.

“Unfortunately, at this time, there is no additional capital funding available to allow for any expansion of Public Space CCTV. In addition, each new camera carries a year-on-year revenue cost and the existing council budget for this is already fully committed.

“Further expansion would require savings to be made in other service areas. Therefore, there are no plans at present to expand the CCTV network.”

He said the council and police were working on an action plan to tackle safety issues in the south-west of the city.

In a separate letter, Chief Inspector Richard Thomas, from Wester Hailes police station, said: “While we would always welcome additional CCTV, I understand that costs may be prohibitive.”

Ms Boyack said: “While I welcome much of the council’s response, I do not accept their conclusion that the subway is adequately monitored.

“Dedicated CCTV coverage inside the subway would assist the police. It would also provide peace of mind to local people.”

iswanson@edinburghnews.com