Full steam ahead for CCTV and Civic basement work

Plans to keep Plymouth’s shoppers and visitors safer under the watchful eye of a new state-of-the-art CCTV control centre have taken a major step forward.

The Council has today announced the contractor who will be responsible for the work, which includes separating the Civic Centre from the Council House as well converting the basement for the CCTV system to be installed.

Local company Ryearch have been awarded the contract to carry out the work which will start at the end of the month. The executive decision to award the £1.4 million contract was signed under delegated decision by Deputy leader Councillor Peter Smith.

The project has this week also been granted planning permission and English Heritage has also approved the work on the listed building.

Councillor Mark Lowry, Cabinet Member for Finance said: “We needed to replace our CCTV control centre as its current home in Mayflower Car Park is going to be demolished as part of our exciting plans to build the new coach station.

“We’re using the move to make sure that we have a system that reflects a modern city. Our current set-up was last upgraded over 12 years ago. This control centre carries out very important work keeping our citizens safe and new technology in a new location will help.”

The control is the nerve centre for over 300 cameras which keep an eye on locations ranging from the city centre pedestrian areas, district shopping centres, car parks, walkways as well as public spaces across the city.

The upgraded cameras means people keeping an eye on what’s going on in and around the city will be able to zoom in for more detail for instance, if there is an incident.

As well as monitoring public safety and general surveillance, the system is linked to retailers who are members of Plymouth Against Retail Crime. The team also monitors the radio channels used by the parking operations team, police radio as well as Nite Net – a radio used by local pubs and clubs.

The new centre means the Council House will have 24-hour security as there will always be staff in the building. The intention is for the centre to be accessible to the police, to help better team up with the other organisations who help keep the city safe.

The new control room will have more responsive technology, will have the capacity to link with other external alarm systems; increased CCTV visibility, a break-out space for staff, additional services to partners, a purpose built workshop and presentation/monitoring room.

The small team has recorded over 2,000 incidents in the space of six months, with incidents ranging from looking for missing people, lost children, those wanted by the police for offences, street drinkers, anti-social behaviour or just being a general nuisance. Recorded footage can play a vital role as evidence in court cases.

The work is being overseen by the Council’s Transformation Programme which is responsible for the smooth move of staff out of the Civic Centre, ahead of its redevelopment by Urban Splash.

The project also includes some extremely complex work to separate the utilities, and IT networks, so that the Council House operates as a separate entity from the rest of the Civic Centre

At the same time the Council has decided to replace old oil-fired boilers in the Guildhall with gas boilers. The work includes running heating pipework from the Guildhall to the Council House. Once installed, this will heat both buildings.

Councillor Lowry added: “This is a complex project, but by combining these elements we will save money in the long run as well as invest in our assets. Having all the work carried out under one contractor will make the programme a lot easier to deliver. It’s full steam ahead for some significant work.”

The decision may be subject to call-in by scrutiny.