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Swale council looking into offering free WiFi in Sittingbourne, Sheerness and Faversham

By Chloe Holmwood

A council is looking into offering free WiFi in town centres.

It comes after Swale council's cabinet agreed in principle to upgrade the borough's CCTV network and bring the service back under council control.

The 52-camera system is operated by the Medway Commercial Group, on behalf of the CCTV partnership with Medway, Maidstone and Gravesham councils.

Free WiFi could be offered in town centres. Stock pictures
Free WiFi could be offered in town centres. Stock pictures

A review of the system raised several concerns over the age and quality of the cameras in use, the cost of the wired system and the how the partnership was managed.

To make sure the CCTV network is effective, the proposals are for a new CCTV control room to be installed in the new multi-storey car park in Sittingbourne.

The council said this would be operated during periods of higher crime and anti-social behaviour, and cover night-time premises working hours.

The system would be upgraded to wireless, with higher quality cameras and more flexibility to deploy to sites where they are needed, which also gives the option for providing free WiFi to Sheerness, Sittingbourne and Faversham town centres.

Stock image of a CCTV camera. (13984084)
Stock image of a CCTV camera. (13984084)

Cllr Richard Palmer (Swale Ind), cabinet member for community at the council, said: "The current cameras are old, provide poor quality images and are operated from Strood. By returning the service in-house we can benefit from vital local knowledge and improved relationships with our partners in the police and wider community, which will help improve the service even more.

"We've repeatedly raised a number of concerns about the current partnership, but whilst they have made some recent attempts to improve, we have given them notice that we will be ending the arrangement.

"A new system will be cheaper to operate, and should more than pay for itself over time, even if we put some money aside every year to pay for future upgrades.

"Used correctly, CCTV can be an effective tool for making communities safer and now we have the chance to improve it to make sure people feel safe in the borough."

Following the cabinet decision last week, the council will now carry out a procurement exercise for the upgrade which will go back to cabinet for decision later in the year.

Read more: All the latest news from Sheerness

Read more: All the latest news from Sittingbourne

Read more: All the latest news from Faversham

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