The shooting in Beeston on Wednesday night should have been caught on CCTV, but although a posts are in place at both ends of Maud Avenue, there are no cameras yet.
We reported back in February that Councillors had approved spending of £50,000 to install three cameras: two in Cross Flatts Park and a third at the junction of Maud Avenue and Tempest Road. Officers warned that the installation process involved several players and might take some time, but hoped the cameras would be operational in eight weeks.
We are now eight months on and the cameras are still not in place.
Like many dog walkers and other regular park users, I’ve been watching the slow progress of this installation over those eight months. I’m sure many will criticise the ‘pen pushers’ at the Council, but I’ve been speaking to Councillors and I can assure you that they and their officers are pulling their hair out in frustration too.
You might think that you just place an order and a company comes out and fits the thing, but no, there are at least three companies involved and they all work to their own timescales.
First the posts have to be installed, then an electricity supply has to be connected and finally BT have to come and connect the cabling that will link the camera to the control room. Apparently we are at the stage where BT have been, but weren’t satisfied with the electricity supply and so haven’t done their work. We are waiting for the electricity company to come back and sort out whatever the problem is.
We were promised when all these companies were privatised that ‘the market’ would ensure a much more efficient and customer focussed service. Don’t make me laugh.
The problem is that you can’t have lots of different companies working on the infrastructure, so a state monopoly has become a private monopoly. This is of great benefit to shareholders, but not so good for tax payers and customers.
I probably sound very old fashioned, but I preferred it back in the day when these vital services were provided by nationalised industries. Life was simpler, you bought your electricity from the electricity board and your gas from the gas board. And you knew who owned these organisations (we did) and where the profits went (back to the exchequer).
If you buy your electricity from British Gas, there’s no point in ringing them if you have a power cut. No, you have to ring Northern Powergrid.
In fact let’s take a break for a public service announcement. If you have a power cut you should call 105, it’s the new emergency number for power cuts.
Northern Powergrid sounds like a friendly local firm doesn’t it? I’m sure the staff are, certainly the one chap I know who works for them is an excellent individual. But who owns Northern Powergrid?
Their website is very helpful on this. They are owned by a company called Berkshire Hathaway Energy. Berkshire? Well it might be down south, but at least it’s in England.
It goes on. Berkshire Hathaway Energy owns lots of energy companies “mainly in North America” (uh-oh) according to the website. In fact it is itself a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc, owned by Mr Warren Buffet – a famously wealthy American.
I’m not picking on Northern Powergrid, it’s the same with most of old nationalised industries. Whether it’s railway companies owned by German or Dutch (state) railways, or power stations owned by French or Chinese energy companies.
On one level it doesn’t really matter who owns these companies, but it does annoy me that the politicians who pushed for Brexit to get control back from Brussels are silent on who actually controls so much of our essential services.
Whoever’s going to take the profit from our CCTV cameras, I just wish they would get on and install them.
I’ll be on back next week with more of my views from South of the River. If you’re on Twitter, you can follow me: @BeestonJeremy.