Anger over setback to Torbay town centres crime fight
TRADERS fighting crime in Torbay's shopping centres say they have suffered a major setback in their plans for a new digital radio system.
Torbay Town Centres Company wants to establish a security alert system — linked to the Bay's CCTV network — for which it won a £10,000 Big Lottery grant.
The link allows businesses to send out a warning to some 120 others over the radio when there is anti-social behaviour or crime in a town centre.
But Torbay Council put it out to contract and the town centres company lost to a private company.
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The town centres company has decided to forge ahead with its system as it is potentially a major source of income which would be ploughed back into the high street.
Torbay Council's decision is being questioned and the company is appealing.
Company chairman Barry Buxton said: "It beggars belief that in these times of financial difficulty, Torbay Council has chosen to not support TTCC. We were originally set up by the council and are a not-for-profit organisation.
"We currently work in partnership with Torbay Council on many initiatives and it is disappointing they have not considered the multiple benefits we are offering to local businesses.
"We believe no other company could have competed with our local knowledge and crime intelligence, received in collaboration through Torbay Against Crime, our Business Crime Partnership with the local business community, police and the council itself. The bottom line is that businesses will suffer from this decision."
Ian Broadfoot, chief executive, said: "We have submitted an appeal to the council, but we need to focus on implementing the radio system we are committed to delivering.
"This system will be run locally by Torbay Town Centres Company for the benefit of Torbay and the profits from the system will be reinvested back into each individual town centre."
He claimed the decision meant profits will be taken out of the Bay.
John Doherty, chairman of the Torquay BID steering group, said: "I am bitterly disappointed we have been taken through a process which I am led to believe was unnecessary. The council has let us down. I have raised a series of questions which have not yet been answered."
Richard Randle-Jones, centre director of Union Square, said he had previous experience of local authority tendering and running a radio scheme elsewhere and claimed: "It didn't need the support of the council.
"Why should the council deliver something when a local organisation can do it for them?"
The town centres company's system is fully automated and monitors and records all radio activity along with the latest technology in digital handsets. The scheme will link businesses, security officers, the Police, BID Street Team and CCTV and will also provide local information to users of the system through a separate communications loop.
Arthur Christian, from the Babbacombe Bay BID, said the council could have used the traders' radio system: "Instead someone went off and wrote a massive specification. It's really disappointing."
A Torbay Council spokesman said: "In the interests of openness and transparency, the council followed its well established procurement process for the contract for a new digital radio system.
"The process was correctly applied in order to provide all interested companies with an opportunity to submit tenders.
"The contract has been awarded to a company after a robust evaluation of the five bids received.
"We would point out that had the council taken any other course of action than to go through a tender process for use of a publicly-owned asset — the access to the CCTV control centre and services — we would have been open to challenge from the other providers.
"We have received a complaint in respect of this matter and we have sent our response to the complainant."