Council property ‘lost’ during Southend civic centre clearout

CCTV cameras and multiple pieces of council property “disappeared” after the top five floors of Southend Civic Centre were cleared, a councillor has claimed.

Last week, Stephen Aylen, non-aligned councillor for Belfairs Ward, called for 60 secret cameras disguised as rocks purchased by the council some years ago to be utilized to help catch fly-tippers.

However, Cllr Aylen now says the cameras, along with other council property, were mistakenly left in the top five floors of the civic centre in Victoria Avenue when contractors were brought in to clear the floors.

The floors were cleared out and closed down to cut costs for the city council.

Cllr Aylen said: “The cameras went missing along with loads of stuff. What appears to have happened was the contractors brought in to clear the floors at the civic centre did just that.

“Keys to buildings are gone, two sets of bound records from 1947 up 1997 which were in the council communal area went missing.”

Cllr Aylen said he discovered one set was put away for safekeeping but another set allegedly stored in the town clerk’s department had disappeared.

He added: “They must have gone in the skip as well. They got someone in and they cleared it. Everything went.

“I’ve been told records have gone that they can’t trace back. People just went home during Covid. There was no one to say they shouldn’t be taking that or checking it. There was an enormous amount of stuff. It was a totally bad decision.

“The cameras were there as well. They look like rocks and you place them in known fly tipping places to record who was fly tipping. They used two as a trial and they were very successful. They had quite a few prosecutions. They were just left in a cupboard.”

However, James Courtney, councillor responsible for public protection, cast doubt that the cameras ever existed.

He said: “The council hasn’t got 60 mobile cameras. Every councillor would be constantly requesting them for different things. I know the community safety team would want to use them.”

Southend Council was asked to comment.

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