Worksop resident storms out of planning meeting after school given go-ahead to keep ‘intrusive’ CCTV camera

The meeting took place at County Hall

The meeting took place at County Hall

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A resident stormed out of a council chamber – after two schools were granted permission to keep a three-metre pole-mounted CCTV camera.

It is believed the camera – installed on the driveway shared by Prospect Hill Infant and Nursery School and Prospect Hill Junior School, in Maple Drive, Worksop – has been in place for a year.

But its presence has angered a number of residents, who have complained the camera records private property and has intruded on their lives.

Nottinghamshire County Council received six letters of objection from three neighbours of the schools about the camera.

CCTV cameras can be installed without planning permission, but those rights do not extend to free-standing or pole-mounted cameras – except for “crown rights for the purpose of national security”.

Christine Hindley has lived in Maple Drive for more than 38 years, and told councillors at Tuesday’s planning and licensing committee meeting her house is opposite the schools.

“I have been pursuing the removal of this camera for 18 months,” she said. “Eighteen months of living in a goldfish bowl.

“Prisoners have more privacy. The camera is constantly in our eye line.”

Mrs Hindley added: “The camera has been lowered, moved randomly. It breaches the Human Rights Act, the Data Protection Act and the surveillance code.

“What statistics corroborate that security has improved [as a result of the camera]?”

Mrs Hindley told councillors she tried to get permission from the schools to see the CCTV images, but said she was told she had to pay a fee of £10.

Councillors heard the camera is able to capture the lower half of a vehicle turning in and out of a property on Maple Drive, but it is a “limited glimpse”.

A report by planning officers – who recommended the retrospective application be approved – stated: “It is reasonable to expect the camera to capture the traffic within the road as it needs to deal with vehicles entering and leaving the school site.

“The camera is angled down such that only the lower part of vehicles continuing along Maple Drive are captured and this would include a vehicle accessing the property directly opposite.”

Farndon and Muskham ward councillor Sue Saddington said: “I wouldn’t mind if my cars were filmed going in and out of the drive. But I don’t think it’s reasonable to capture on private property.

“Private property is exactly that – and I don’t think we have a right to film on private property.”

But Carlton West councillor Jim Creamer said the position of the camera is “just about right”, while Mansfield South councillor Andy Sissons supported the application – but called for better relations between the schools and neighbours.

The application passed by six votes to two, with the added suggestions that the camera and its operation should be included in a schools audit - and the schools “pay a little more attention to relations with their neighbours”.

Once the vote passed, Mrs Hindley left the meeting, telling councillors the schools will not comply with conditions, adding: “Don’t hold your breath.”

In a statement after the meeting, Louise Rose, headteacher at the Infant and Nursery School, said: “The safety of our children, staff and visitors to school is of paramount importance and we believe the use of CCTV at this location is proportionate and reasonable.

“We are pleased that, after considering all the evidence, the planning committee supported this view.

“A good relationship with the wider community is important to us and we are keen to liaise with local residents so that they can feel reassured that the camera is not in any way imposing on their privacy.”

Louise Rose, Head Teacher at Prospect Hill Infant and Nursery School in Worksop said: “Safety of our children, staff and visitors to school is of paramount importance and we believe the use of CCTV at this location is proportionate and reasonable. We are pleased that, after considering all the evidence, the Planning Committee supported this view.

“The camera is fixed in one position to monitor the main entrance to school and the road immediately outside, playing an essential role in ensuring the security of the school and the people in it. It does not overlook any neighbouring residential properties.

“The use of CCTV and other security measures at schools in Worksop, Nottinghamshire and the rest of the country is widespread and accepted best practice.

“A good relationship with the wider community is important to us and we are keen to liaise with local residents so that they can feel reassured that the camera is not in any way imposing on their privacy.”