AFTER two decades of proposals, council motions and lobbying, closed circuit television (CCTV) has finally arrived in Strabane.
First mooted as far back as the mid-1990s, the town centre surveillance became a tangible reality in recent days, after five cameras were mounted at separate locations.
To be monitored 24/7 through a private company employed by Derry City and Strabane District Council, the new CCTV installations will cover the majority of the town centre. Cameras have now been mounted on Main Street, Castle Place, Railway Road, Abercorn Square and the Asda site.
Over the years, the high cost of installation and operation had ultimately prevented CCTV being established within the town. However a recent cocktail of funding from disparate bodies including Strabane Business Improvement District (BID), the Policing Safety Community Partnership, council and Strabane Town Forum contributed to a total of almost £60,000 to have the cameras installed.
Commenting on the new system, proprietor of Murphy’s on the Green, Kieran Murphy, who also represents Strabane BID (Business Improvement District) says the addition of the new system is a wholly positive development.
“The BID company has delivered here,” he said. “This is private money and it’s delivering for the town. The BID hasn’t come in with 100 per-cent of the funding but its addition got the CCTV over the line.
“When you look at feedback from people, there was a bit of hesitancy regarding CCTV and Big Brother watching us at the start. But that’s all gone. It’s accepted now that most town and cities have systems like these in operation.
“The normal man has nothing to fear from CCTV. It’s all good.”
Similarly, president of the Strabane Chamber of Commerce, Martin Gallen says it’s satisfying to see the system finally installed.
“Through the chamber, I have been working with one of the groups (Strabane Town Forum) who have contributed financially to this venture,” he remarked. “It has been a long time coming and I will be happy to see it in action.
“A lot of praise should also be given to Catherine Collins and the BID board for their contribution which was sizeable and the continuous effort they put in has been understated.
“They are making great moves to improve the town recently and they deserve kudos for this thankless task.”
According to a spokesperson from council, the state-of-the-art surveillance system will be operational before the end of April.
Strabane independent councillor, Patsy Kelly added, “I’ve long been an advocate for CCTV for Strabane and I’ve been shouting about this for the past few years. I would certainly welcome this development.
“At long last, Strabane has finally caught up with other towns and cities across the North.
“Strabane is a safe town already but this system will make it even safer and can only enhance our night-time economy.”