No CCTV commitment for Barrhead’s Cowan Park

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East Renfrewshire Council is not committing to installing cameras at Barrhead’s vandal-hit Cowan Park – despite earmarking half a million pounds for CCTV improvements.

Budget plans, revealed last week, show £500,000 will be spent over the next two years on upgrading CCTV systems “to combat crime and anti-social behaviour”.

Fed-up residents called on the council to act in November after a spate of vandalism incidents in the park, which included a new play area being set on fire.

But council chiefs say the money will initially be invested in converting existing cameras from analogue to digital.

Once that work is completed, they will liaise with Police Scotland to identify areas which need new cameras due to anti-social behaviour.

SNP councillor Colm Merrick welcomed the funding announcement at Thursday’s budget meeting.

“We’re going to increase the CCTV cameras to help with community safety but we already have the lowest crime rate in mainland Scotland,” he said.

“East Renfrewshire is one of the safest places to live and work in mainland Scotland.”

Back in November, witnesses reported seeing youths setting fire to a picnic bench in the play area at Cowan Park and then scattering before police and fire crews arrived.

The park was left requiring costly repairs from public funds, just months after £250,000 of improvements were carried out.

Rosaleen Reilly, chair of Barrhead Community Council, joined the calls for CCTV, saying many local people are scared to go through the park in the dark.

She said cameras were “absolutely crucial” and would help Barrhead residents to feel much safer when using the park.

Residents also took to social media to voice their concerns, questioning why no CCTV was installed when the park was upgraded.

A spokesman for East Renfrewshire Council said: “The modernisation programme priority is to upgrade the Council’s existing cameras from analogue to digital. This will provide higher quality pictures and a reduction in ongoing running costs.

“Once this phase of the programme is complete, the potential for additional camera locations will be explored.

“Any decision on the location of new cameras will be made in conjunction with Police Scotland and be based on information about areas which attract anti-social behaviour reports.”