There are many aspects to this story that are annoying, none of which is anything to do with the Rother Valley – but as my blog has widened to include examples of poor planning and spending nationally, I thought I’d include it anyway.
Now, CCTV cameras being illegal – you’d think that was something to do with privacy, or the Data Protection Act or something, wouldn’t you? All very inconvenient for security and all that, especially with the world’s leaders about to arrive – but then Civil Liberties are not to be taken lightly. A tricky problem.
Oh, except it’s nothing to do with privacy at all – the fact that with the cameras on it is very hard to live a private life in London – even if the common claim that each person is filmed by CCTV 300 times a day is a little dubious the story is nothing at all to do with any concerns about erosion of liberties.
No, the reason the cameras are being turned off is that the ‘recently installed’ system (which cost £15 million) does not comply with the Traffic Management Act, which comes in to force on 1st April. The Act states that traffic cameras must be capable of recording at 720 x 576 pixels. The new cameras in Westminster can only record at 704 x 576 pixels. Ooooh, 16 pixels short.
So, a number of things concern me here:
1) There are only 60 cameras, and they cost £15 million – that’s a quarter of a million pounds per camera.
2) Why is the legislation so specific on the number of pixels? Why not leave it to those fitting the cameras to judge how much quality is required for their purposes? This seems blatant over-legislation.
3) The Traffic Management Act was passed in 2004 – it’s just parts of it are only coming in now. Surely someone involved in a major traffic management project costing £15 million should have been aware of a fairly major piece of legislation affecting their project?
Westminster Council is now lobbying government to exempt it form the legislation, or to change the legislation. Such a shame we find ourselves in that situation rather than one where the legislation wasn’t so unnecessarily prescriptive, and or the council were vaguely competent.