Big Brother cameras taken down in village

12th September 2013.   Scholes residents are concerned about CCTV cameras that have been installed across the community as part of new housing developments. Pictured George and Marlene Hall with angry residents underneath one of the cameras on Rakehill Road.

12th September 2013. Scholes residents are concerned about CCTV cameras that have been installed across the community as part of new housing developments. Pictured George and Marlene Hall with angry residents underneath one of the cameras on Rakehill Road.

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Cameras which Scholes residents claimed had turned their community into ‘Big Brother’ village have been removed after protests.

And consultants retained by developers GMI Holdings have pledged that all images taken would be destroyed and assured residents that cameras will not be used again.

Resident George Hall said: “Trust is not earned by actions such as these, where the community are neither informed nor consulted.”

The U-turn has been hailed as a victory by residents, including members of the Save Our Scholes pressure group, who insisted that the eight cameras fitted at street vantage points were an intrusion.

The News has learned that the traffic survey company which installed the cameras in Scholes, without official approval, was ‘removed from the job’ by transport consultants Pell Frischmann, who have apologised to the city council.

As well as pledging to destroy all images captured by the cameras, they have given an assurance that future traffic surveys will be carried out manually.

Members of Save Our Scholes claimed that one camera took images of children near the village primary school.

Chris Gilman, Managing Director of GMI Holdings, told the News: “The suggestion that they were filming children at the school was outrageous and totally inaccurate.”

Leeds council officers confirmed that contractors working for the transport consultants had installed the cameras on residential streets, close to land for which GMI Holdings and Barratt David Wilson Homes will soon seek planning approval for 800 new homes.

Advising the parish council that the cameras had been removed, Phil Crabtree, the city council’s Chief Planning Officer, said they were erected “without the requisite licences.” Neither the council’s planning nor highways departments had been consulted.

Amanda Munro, representing Save Our Scholes, said residents took exception to “the sudden appearance of cameras all over the village.”

She questioned why the parish council and residents had not been consulted in advance.

The transport consultants told the city council that, before the cameras were removed, staff taking part in the traffic survey received verbal abuse from some Scholes residents.

Some staff members were so upset they were unable to complete their work.