At the latest Lochgelly Community Council meeting held on the 11th May, community councillors repeated calls for CCTV to be installed in the Lochgelly Public Park to capture ‘undesirable’ and ‘inconsiderate’ behaviour from youths and other park-users.

CCTV systems within the park have been proposed on several occasions by Lochgelly Community Council and repeated by Labour activist, LCC secretary and chair of the sub-committee, the Public Park Improvement Group, Mr Murray, during a discussion highlighting the completion of the MUGA court at the Public Park.

Mr Murray said that the MUGA court “is a success, no-one is using it, but neither were they using the previous space, so it is a success. It will be an asset to the park

Community councillors commented that the first weekend that the MUGA court was open to the public “a higher number of youths, more than usual, went to the MUGA court. We asked police and community wardens to increase patrols in the area.

The casual demonisation of Lochgelly youths was continued with calls for a CCTV system, which may initially be a “costly” mobile CCTV unit operated by Fife Council, which they hoped would capture and discourage “inconsiderate” and “irresponsible” behaviour from dog-owners.

Reviewing earlier minutes for the Lochgelly Community Council, CCTV has been previously proposed for the MUGA court and calls for it by the LCC were repeated on Facebook by an unnamed community councillor; “The Public Park Improvement Group have been in discussions with Fife Council about costing CCTV installation

Police attending the meeting pointed out that Lochgelly statistically is a very low crime-rate area, with only 20 violent crimes committed last year in the area, 16 of which were domestic abuse cases.

Several community councillors expressed doubt over the statistics presented by the police officer, and community councillors agreed to request further access to the data.

The calls for CCTV by community councillors were not backed by factual crime data to show that there is a need for CCTV in the public park. Backing for the CCTV system appears to be based on the perception that youths cannot be trusted in the local area, and that some park users were “inconsiderate” and “irresponsible”.

Local police statistics from 2009 show that CCTV is an ineffectual tool for reducing crime “Between 1 January 2009 and 31 December 2009, 645 crimes were recorded as having been committed in the Lochgelly area. Of these crimes, 312 were detected. It is not possible to identify those crimes where CCTV played a part in their detection without reviewing each one. In that last year, 63 incidents were captured on CCTV and Officers requested 73 reviews of historical CCTV footage.

During a time of austerity cuts Fife Council has spent a total of £1,261,047 on installing and maintaining CCTV systems throughout the Kingdom. Since 2012 Fife Council has had a total spend of £72,395 on fixed CCTV installations. Since 2012 the cost to Fife Council to maintain and operate the CCTV system has cost the taxpayer £94,358 annually.

In 2012, Big Brother Watch reported that Fife has the 2nd highest number of CCTV cameras out of all local authorities in the UK, and manages more CCTV than Liverpool, Manchester, and Leeds combined.

As yet, Lochgelly community council have not provided or used crime data to determine if there is a requirement for CCTV. Instead they are relying on hearsay and conjecture, while reasonable concerns about privacy and civic society have not been discussed.

Nor have discussions been held over the type of data that will be captured by the proposed CCTV systems in the Public Park, given that modern CCTV cameras are capable of capturing biometric data and audio.

As yet, discussions have been very vague and unclear over what is being proposed and have not involved any public consultation, or even the suggestion that this would be desirable.

Should CCTV be placed in Lochgelly Public Park?

  • No (78%, 160 Votes)
  • Yes (19%, 39 Votes)
  • Unsure (3%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 206

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7 Comments

  1. Jim Duffy

    May 20, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    It’s bad enough being watched all the time when up and down the main street, but I think watching us when we are out for a leisurely walk, in our free time, or taking our kids to the park is way over the top!

    Also, stop picking on our kids! I have a teenage son and daughter, they’re both good kids. I thought the mugacourt was supposed to be for the kids anyway? And why it wasn’t built on the old tennis court, beats me!

    Lochgelly is a relatively safe place to live in. It seems to me that the community council needs to stop casting doubt and assertions against the folk of the town, be that our youths, dog-walkers, or anybody else they’re currently picking on!

    No to cctv camera’s in OUR park, keep your hands off!

    Responsible dog-walker, Jim.

    Reply

  2. Parklover

    May 20, 2016 at 1:39 pm

    This is bonkers. The kneejerk response of LCC to Lochgelly youth is thoroughly shameful. It reflects the make-up of the LCC which is overwhelmingly old, white and male and where no one has pre-teen or teenage children. High time the LCC became less exclusive and started to be an accurate reflection of the community it’s supposed to represent. I hear no one from the public even went to the last LCC meeting – how can community councillors think they have the legitimacy or authority to decide anything?

    As for the one professional politician Councillor Mark Hood who was there and is paid to represent us – why didn’t he speak up against this idiocy? And why isn’t he doing anything against the anti-democratic make-up of the LCC? (Is it really because the LCC is just a cosy old club for Labour activists?)

    CCTV cameras would be the cherry on the cake as far as the public park goes. After all, it looks as if a scorched earth policy has already been carried out – with mature trees chopped down, flower beds flattened, hedges and other bushes shorn to within an inch of their lives , wild or natural areas razed, edges of all the paths zapped with weedkiller so the grass now ends in dead brown strips – and the aesthetic of a prison camp is now being established: huge unnecessary signage (everyone knows it’s a public park and can see the various facilities it offers) and a caged exercise yard (the MUGA) which I have yet to see anyone use. I expect the Public Park Committee will be asking for police patrols next.

    Reply

  3. Carron Scullion

    May 20, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    As a dog owner that uses the park every day, it’s great to see so many kids using the MUGA, playpark and new benches!

    I’m assuming the Minute for the LCC meeting held on 11/5/16 has been released in view of the information in your article. Can you confirm where I can view a copy please?

    I’m at a loss as to why you have referred to community councillor Stevie Murray as a labour activist when he doesn’t attend in a political capacity. I was under the impression that community councillors were elected on a non political basis.

    Reply

    • Linda Holt

      May 21, 2016 at 12:05 am

      I’m amazed that you see “so many kids using the MUGA, playpark & new benches” because I haven’t seen any – except for my child when I forced him to go down to the park and he nosed around out of curiosity. As for the MUGA, it would be really interesting to see the research the Public Park Improvement Group/Community Council did to establish that a MUGA was wanted or needed. It seems to be a Fife Council fetish and of course useful for schools (eg the South School) which lack playing fields or where playing fields could be usefully sold off. I really doubt the MUGA was a response to genuine and heartfelt community need.

      I was at the community council meeting on 11/5/16 and can vouch for the fact that the account presented in the LOSW account is accurate. Whether Murray’s words from the meeting will be recorded in the minutes, who knows – especially as he writes the minutes! The person to get in touch with for the minutes is stevie.murray@fife.gov.uk as he is the Secretary.

      As for Murray not attending in a political capacity, how do you know? It is surely a relevant fact worth mentioning that HE IS A LABOUR ACTIVIST – he is listed at the bottom of every page of Labour Councillor Mark Hood’s page in this comment: “Promoted (sic.) Steven Murray on behalf of the (sic.) Mark Hood all (sic.) at 87 The Beeches, Lochgelly Fife KY5 9QB”. There is a very simple reason why people are concerned about the political bias of Murray and indeed the entire LCC: there doesn’t seem to be a cigarette paper’s difference between the campaigns and positions supported by the LCC and those supported by Labour/Labour-run Fife Council. Incidentally, NO ONE is elected on the Lochgelly Community Council, and it’s high time free and open elections were held to break the stranglehold of Labour croneyism and bullying.

      Reply

    • Loch of Shining Waters

      May 22, 2016 at 5:12 pm

      A representative from Shining Waters was in attendance at the meeting and reported on some of the issues being discussed.

      Whether or not every exact detail is included in the minutes will be left to the Secretary, Mr Murray. You can contact Mr Murray on stevie.murray@fife.gov.uk, or contact the chair on brian.schulz@fife.gov.uk

      We would like to make audio recordings of future meetings, and have the equipment necessary to livestream future meetings, but we are very doubtful that we will get agreement from the community council to record audio and livestream meetings, even though this will greatly increase engagement, openness, transparency and accountability.

      Since no members of the public are attending the meetings, this will also help advertise and promote the work of the community council and allow for a more modern and innovative way to engage with residents within the local community.

      We will be approaching the LCC shortly with our proposals to livestream and capture audio of future meetings, and will update our members and site visitors as soon as we have a response.

      Reply

  4. Carol Anne J.

    May 20, 2016 at 9:44 pm

    Lochgelly community council, unelected representatives of the public. The public has no say whatsoever in who sits on the community council. Lochgelly community council, unelected, mostly male, mostly labour members inc campaign manager for labour councillor hood. Democracy a joke in this town. a handful of unelected men making decisions for the whole town without any consultation whatsoever. Still wondering how in this day and age, this has been allowed to happen. so much for democracy!

    Why are they picking on the youths? Have the youths actually done anything wrong to merit such an attack. No. Why are the community council so keen to have cctv cameras in the park, what’s their agenda?

    They are unelected community councillors, it doesn’t give them the right to enforce camera’s on the public. Maybe they would like to consult with all of Lochgelly, and maybe they would like to justify their nasty suspicions about ‘the youth,’ who happen to be our kids?

    Reply

  5. Planter

    May 21, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    I had a letter published in the Central Fife Times this week which talks about youths and the public park, and I agree with you LOSW about installing CCTV. I can’t understand why Mr Murray wants to spend money on policing and effectively excluding young people and others from the park (because what message do CCTV cameras send out?) instead of looking at creative ways of involving and engaging young people and indeed the wider community. There must be projects throughout the UK – not just Merrylee in Glasgow – which have managed to do this. Has nobody on Lochgelly Community Council or Fife Council got the imagination or energy to find out about them?
    You can read my letter at http://www.centralfifetimes.com/opinion/letters/14499765.Park_debate_gathers_pace/
    I’ve also posted it below:
    THANK-you for publishing my letter in the Central Fife Times (April 27). I was, however, a little puzzled to see the letter appear online 2 days ago with the comment appended: “The Public Park Improvement Group is currently in the middle of a project which will see the park brought up to the standard the correspondent wishes to see.”

    Who wrote this comment? (It was the comment of the Editor and was also in the paper).

    Another curiosity which has appeared in your online edition but not the latest paper edition also popped up 2 days ago and also concerns the Public Park Improvement Group. Once again it seems to have been written at the behest of the Public Park Group as a roundabout response both to the criticisms I made in my original letter and to those which were made on facebook. In a thread discussing the recent vandalism to newly-planted saplings in the public park, this comment was made on Facebook: “There is a proven way of reducing vandalism like this which is to get a community actively involved in improving their town. Growing in Lochgelly is doing exactly that, and although they have suffered a bit of vandalism, it is nothing like what nay-sayers expected.

    The problem with the Public Park is that it’s seen as a Fife Council thing, and although the community council is involved, it has not succeeded in involving the local community in its planning or any of the work (the group may think they have but many in the community don’t feel involved or genuinely listened to over their wishes for the project).

    For starters the public park group should have been much more widely constituted than the community council (which many people see as a self-serving clique anyway) and had representatives from key park-user groups.

    This would mean school kids, including primary school children (this is what happens on community projects and even planning committees in Scandinavia), and perhaps each school could have been asked to do a project on what their pupils would like to see in a park, how they would deal with problems etc (endless scope for exciting practical problems there which the Curriculum for Excellence is all about). An example where this approach has had world-recognised success – and reduced vandalism to the point that floodlights, CCTV cameras and locking facilities at night have not been necessary, is Merrylee Primary School in Glasgow.”

    This, together with my letter, prompted Stevie Murray, the Public Park chair, to tell the Central Fife Times that: “We made contact with all local schools last year and so that the children could be involved in the final designs of the play area” and that the group “consists of representatives from various groups in Lochgelly including the residents committee, gala committee, community development forum, Growing in Lochgelly and the community council”.

    I don’t know if Mr Murray succeeded in involving children in the planning and design of the park, but they are not formally included in the committee and it is striking that this is the first time he publicly mentions their involvement. As for the group consisting of representatives from various groups, I challenge Mr Murray to name all these individuals, the groups they represent and when they joined the Public Park Group. The first one of these groups knew that they were represented was when they saw Mr Murray’s claim online!

    Mr Murray might dearly wish that he was leading an inclusive, genuinely grassroots group that represents a broad church of park-users, as opposed to a bunch of Labour cronies from the Lochgelly Community Council who are doing Fife Council’s bidding. Since its inception, the Public Park Group has alienated people by its lack of transparency and accountability. Now it can add shameless spin to its list of achievements.

    PLANTER.

    Reply

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