WATCHET has been without a fully working CCTV system for almost a year it was revealed this week.

Fed up councillors publicly vented their frustrations with the new Somerset West and Taunton Council over a number of issues at Watchet Town Council on Monday evening (June 10).

Councillors said they felt Watchet was being ignored over a number of issues including CCTV, the transfer of the library, and management of the Esplanade.

Cllr John Richards explained the woes the town council has been facing when it comes to CCTV.

Several years ago a partnership was formed between West Somerset Council, Avon and Somerset Police and Minehead and Watchet town councils to provide CCTV in the town.

Watchet Town Council was contracted to pay £3,000 of funding per year towards maintenance and running costs.

Cllr Richards said: “Between the end of May and the beginning of June 2018, the radio link to Minehead from Watchet failed and this was reported to WSC for urgent attention.

“Since that date Minehead control centre has not been able to view the CCTV in Watchet and no attempt has been made to repair the link by either WSC or SWAT.”

Cllr Richards added: “Around October 2018 the power supply in the equipment rack failed and there was no recording available until it was repaired.

“Repeated calls to WSC to get this fixed urgently got nowhere and replies often took several weeks to arrive and were of no value.

“Eventually I took on responsibility and arranged to meet an ADT engineer on site, where we found a very simple fault that could have been rectified months ago.

“There had been two months without any recordings whatsoever."

Cllr Richards said in March 2019 the equipment racked failed again, and has yet to be fixed, meaning there is now no CCTV in Watchet.

“The police have been unable to gain possible evidence on several issues of late and I have had the embarrassing task of explaining to the police control centre that we could not help in a recent matter,” Cllr Richards said.

One of the other major issues the town council was facing was failing negotiations over the freehold transfer of the library.

Watchet mayor Cllr John Irven said the council had felt there had been good progress with the West Somerset Council in portfolio holder agreeing to the asset transfer in March.

READ MORE: Community group hopes to secure bright future for Watchet Library

However with the new council there had been continuing disputes over the terms, with Cllr Irven saying the Somerset West and Taunton was ‘acting in its own interest rather than the interest of trust beneficiaries’, given the library was gifted to the people of Watchet in 1951 and held in trust by the council.

Cllr Peter Murphy said he felt Watchet Town Council had a good track record of collaborative working, but these issues ‘had to come into the public domain in order to get something done’.

Cllr Irven said: “We have be running around at ground level and getting nowhere so it is time to take our concerns to the leaders of the council.”

This is The West Country:
SIGNED: Loretta Whetlor, Sally De Renzy-Martin, John Irven, Sarah Reed, Oliver Woodhams, Sara Long, and Peter Murphy at Watchet Library in March

Cllr Benet Allen, cabinet member at SWAT for communications and culture responded: “The issue with the CCTV has just been drawn to my attention but we need to make it work as quick as we can.

“We are a new council and we have inherited quite a backlog of things we need to put right.”

Cllr Allen also said the new council was looking into the position regarding the library and was optimistic negotiations would be able to progress.

A spokesman for Somerset West and Taunton Council said: “Somerset West and Taunton is committed to working with Watchet Town Council and the wider community to address the concerns raised.”