By RYAN TAYLOR
Changes are being made to the layout of the planned network of CCTV cameras scheduled to appear in Lerwick’s town centre, amid continuing delays in getting the long expected security system up and running.
An amendment to the existing consent by the SIC is being sought to allow one of the cameras to be mounted at the Lloyds TSB building on the Esplanade, instead of on Harbour House as originally planned.
The move is being made because security experts felt the camera’s view would be partially blocked by a lampost if it were to be hung from Harbour House.
It had been hoped the lampost would be moved, but that was deemed not possible amid concerns it would leave part of the town in darkness.
Instead, plans are in place to mount the dome camera with aerial on the nort-facing wall of the bank at Victoria Buildings, above the cash-point machine.
Members of Lerwick Port Authority were told of the news at their board meeting on Tuesday. Chief executive Sandra Laurenson said Lloyds TSB had been seen as a more “suitable location” than Harbour House.
SIC community safety officer Jenny Wylie – who in the past has widely endorsed CCTV cameras despite concerns they took Shetland further down the path to becoming a surveillance society – said she had been told the offending street light could not be moved from its present location, as had been hoped.
That meant a new home would have to be found for the camera, as at least part of its view would be blocked if it were to be mounted from Harbour House.
“We spoke to the roads department to see if the street light could be moved round the corner, but that would mean street lighting levels would not be good enough” Mrs Wylie said.
“It won’t hold up the system any more, unless there are huge reservations and people have got huge concerns about it.
“The property owners and the tenants don’t have any objections, so it won’t hold things up any more.”
Mrs Wylie said engineers from south-based camera installer Scotshield would arrive next month to replace unsightly thick poles which sprang up in February with thinner columns that blend more easily with their surroundings. The cameras should be up and running from then on.
“They want to come up and put the whole system in in one go,” she said. “There have been a number of minor issues that have taken longer than anticipated to sort out that nobody in Shetland has worked on before. It’s been a really steep learning curve, but it’s part and parcel of putting in a really big project like this.
“It’s not a big project in the way a new school might be, but it’s complicated because all the different departments and agencies have to get involved from the start.”
The CCTV installation has faced plenty of delays since the planning department first gave the nod for the £200,000 system, which will see 14 cameras operated at Lerwick Police Station, in January last year.
Despite objections there were hopes to have all cameras, running from Faerdie Maet to the foot of Harbour Street, in place by last spring. However, the cameras ended up sitting in storage at the police station as ongoing planning issues were sorted out to keep Historic Scotland happy, who were concerned about cameras being mounted on many of Commercial Street’s listed buildings.
In February, over a year after planning consent was originally given, the unsightly black poles – which were supposed to have cameras mounted on top of them – put in an unwelcome appearance on Victoria Pier, next to the Small Boat Harbour and along from the Fort Chip Shop. They were deliberately made thick to help them withstand gale-force winds.
The original plan was to have the cameras mounted on existing lamp posts, but concerns were raised that they would give a distorted picture as the lighting columns swayed in the wind.
Crunch talks were held between the council and Scotshield, and a thinner design was agreed on, although the ugly fat poles are so far still in place.