Byron Shire Council has given the green light and up to $200,000 funding for the installation of 16 CCTV cameras in the central business area around Apex Park and Jonson Street.
The controversial issue of security cameras has divided the community but it was a case of an offer too good to refuse for councillors at last Thursday’s Council meeting.
Their funding decision also means providing $15,000 per year to the Byron Youth Service’s Street Cruise Program, beginning in the 2015-16 financial year.
Additionally with the CCTV funding, partners will be sought to help the estimated $80,000 per year ‘and/or find partners to collect the data and maintain the system (eg NSW Police).’
Perhaps most importantly, a lighting component has been included, totalling $45,000.
The mover of the motion, Cr Chris Cubis, told fellow councillors that he had been affected by Byron’s street violence.
‘An apprentice of mine was bashed to within an inch of his life,’ Cr Cubis said.
During debate, mayor Simon Richardson warned of the cost associated with CCTV upkeep and cited studies which suggest that it is only effective in carparks.
‘In terms of town centres that experience street violence, CCTV is the last thing people think about. Even police presence doesn’t help,’ Cr Richardson said.
And in a rare show of fiscal abandonment, Cr Sol Ibrahim said, ‘If it’s going to cost some money, then so be it, we have a $60 million budget.’
‘Capture and conviction is what the community expects,’ Cr Ibrahim said.
Meanwhile, president of Byron Bay’s chamber of commerce (Byron United), Michael O’Grady, told Echonetdaily that he personally conducted a study on behalf of the chamber a year ago.
‘I looked at the CCTV installations of surrounding shires, and one of the findings was that maintenance costs were not as high as Council’s estimated $80,000,’ Mr O’Grady said.
But he did concede that with the cameras being near the beach, there could be higher costs associated owing to the salt air.
He added that the topic of contributing to CCTV had not yet been canvassed with Byron United members.