CLOSED circuit television in Huntingdonshire’s market towns is safe, the district council’s leader said yesterday (Tuesday). And those towns that are contributing financially – all except Ramsey – will get more coverage.

The original plan had been to save hundreds of thousands of pounds by mothballing the 100 cameras that oversee the town centres and provide the police with evidence for investigations and the courts with evidence for prosecutions. The police refused to contribute towards the running costs.

But, when Councillor Jason Ablewhite became executive leader in May, he vowed to reverse both that decision and the plan to cut HDC's contributions to the voluntary sector from £375,000 a year to just £75,000.

And the council has been so successful in cutting its costs - and fortunate in attracting additional Whitehall cash - that much of the voluntary sector cash has been saved (the coming year's contributions will total £275,000), and the smell of mothballs has been banished from HDC's Eastfield House depot in Latham Road, Huntingdon.

The town councils in Huntingdon, St Ives and St Neots are contributing a total of £70,000 to enhance the level of coverage that HDC alone could afford, and there is still a possibility that Peterborough City Council will help save more money by merging its control room with Huntingdonshire's - something that has been on the cards for months.

The town councils' contribution is a natural extension of what they have done in the past. For example, St Ives Town Council paid to provide a number of the cameras in the town centre that monitor the district's liveliest nightlife. But until now it has not contributed towards the running costs of the cameras it paid for.

Parish councils covering village areas without cameras were also asked for contributions. All declined.

"It's safe to say that we have saved CCTV in Huntingdonshire," Cllr Ablewhite said.