One of Marlborough’s leading traders has described a meeting at which two groups of councillors battled over whether money should be set aside for a CCTV scheme as “a complete farce”.
Jeweller David Dudley was one of a dozen or more business people who went to the meeting hoping to have some input into the debate that has been on and off the town council agenda for at least 11 years.
Mr Dudley’s jewellery shop has survived several smash and grab attempts.
But when the agenda reached the item on Monday the meeting descended into a melee of shouting, accusation and counter-accusation.
Mayor Edwina Fogg had to not only repeatedly bang her gavel but also had to stand and raise her voice at councillors, including her husband Nick Fogg, telling them to sit down.
Coun Marian Hannaford Dobson presented a report proposing that the council makes provision in next year’s budget for a CCTV system costing up to £20,000. She accused the mayor of showing preferential treatment whenever her husband Nick spoke. At the height of the verbal fracas the mayor could just be heard appealing for calm.
Traders who showed an interest in speaking, including Mr Dudley who sat with his hand raised for a considerable time, were overlooked and this fact has upset Chamber of Commerce president Paul Shimell who was unable to be there.
Coun Nick Fogg claimed that police crime figures did not justify money being spent on CCTV in the town but, in an email to the mayor on Tuesday, Mr Shimell, a director of Specsavers opticians, said: “I am getting visits from angry traders who attended the meeting and were not allowed to ask a single question. My first question is why was this?
“Secondly they were presented with the fact that only one theft has taken place in Marlborough according to Nick (Coun Fogg). “Well this has really stirred up a hornets’ nest as many traders have had hundreds and thousands of pounds of stock stolen.”
Mr Shimell said he was asking all traders to supply the chamber with details about thefts they had suffered. Following the meeting, at which councillors agreed to hold further consultations into whether CCTV is needed, Mr Dudley said: “There were more fireworks in that meeting than there were outside in the town. I don’t think the council achieved anything.”
He said his wife Kim Vine’s shop in High Street had been stripped out completely of designer fashions in September 2007 with no CCTV images to help police find the culprits.
Lis Williams, whose shop The Perfumery was burgled a year ago leaving her with hardly any goods on the shelves, said: “ I couldn’t disagree more with the statement that Marlborough High Street is not a serious crime area. “Prior to the burglary we also suffered heavily from shoplifting.”