Labour has claimed victory after the council agreed to install CCTV cameras at Lauder Road, although the SNP said it had always intended to do so.
In August Councillor Kenny Young (Lab) raised a motion calling on urgent action regarding the need for CCTV at Lauder Road following a sexual assault and other crime there. The SNP submitted a ‘counter-motion’ calling on a county-wide review of CCTV, which led Councillor Young to fear the issue had been “kicked into the long grass”.
After the counter-motion was deemed invalid, councillors last week voted to install permanent CCTV at Lauder Road at a cost of £50,000 , with mobile units placed there in the meantime. A £93,000 upgrade of the CCTV network in the county will also be undertaken, with £20,000 to be spent annually on employing a dedicated member of staff to monitor the systems.
Councillor Young told the Advertiser he was very happy with the outcome.
He said:“I’m extremely pleased that people in the Lauder Road area will now get the CCTV that they have been rightly calling for.
“It was always clear to me that CCTV needed to be installed before the darker months begin in earnest.
“Despite getting this urgent action as the result of a technicality that defeated the council administration, I’m grateful for the cross party support for the cameras.
“I’ll be keeping an eye on progress and will keep residents up to date with the timetable for this work.”
However, Councillor Derek Rosie (SNP) said that the CCTV had been discussed by the Business Transformation Group for some time, a group Labour has declined to sit on.
He said: “Had Labour taken up their spaces on the group they would have known we were looking at all the CCTV in Midlothian.
“In the previous Labour administration Owen Thompson (SNP) went along and worked with them, but they have never taken up their places on that group or the Safer Communities Board since we came into power in May 2012.
“It’s still open to them, at any time they can take up their places. It’s just so they can snip from the sides. They should really be going to these groups.
“All they asked for was CCTV at Lauder Road and we tried to tell them it was for the whole of Midlothian.
“I said at last week’s meeting that there is no point in putting in just mobile units at Lauder Road as they only record, nobody would monitor them. So I put forward that fixed ones be put in.
“That will probably take three months to get up and running, so the mobile ones will be placed there for now.
“The safety of people in Midlothian is paramount.
“One of the other issues we had was that the system in Dalkeith wasn’t really fit for purpose. That had to be upgraded and now it will be.”