Folk Week, Sidmouth in 2008 - swamped by CCTV and governed by control orders?
The end of the line for Keeping Sidmouth Special?
It used to be said that Sidmouth was special because it was stuck in a time warp both architecturally and by virtue of its genteel civility. Somehow, the town had managed to escape the ugliness and brutality of modern day Britain. Maybe no longer.
add Honest John - this is britain today.
For a long time, vandalism in the town centre has been an increasing problem. As elsewhere in the UK the underlying cause remains the excessive consumption of alcohol by young people. Rather than address this underlying cause, the town seems to have decided to implement a solution that has failed elsewhere - expensive CCTV cameras. These have a deterrent effect for a short while but do not deter vandals who are too drunk to care they are being filmed - which may be most of them! The criminal and underclasses are also well aware that even if they are caught, the punishments will not fit the crimes - for example, a slap on the wrist or a 'caution' for serious criminal damage. As for professional shop thieves, they are best deterred by covert in-store cameras. Highly visible external street cameras can only show suspects walking down the road with something (but what?) in a large bag. You can't have a DNA sample taken just for walking down a street - not yet anyway. And as soon as they are out of sight of the cameras the thieves will hand their booty to accomplices anyway.
As for trading on the Esplande on Folk Week, the intervention of one of Sidmouth's best known residents may ensure that EDDC are stirred into action. Tom Griffiths runs the deckchair concession along the Esplanade and can often be seen driving a very old Landrover - or indeed cycling merrily along on an even older bicycle. He also runs the commercial car park adjacent to the Bedford. When people such as Tom Griffiths complain, councillors tend to stir from their slumbers - which is more than they usually do when prodded. As is usual in Sidmouth, the parameters of the problem - let alone any proposed solutions - seem confused. Sidmouth used to have a very visible and effective dog warden service. It was disbanded and the work handed to an outside contractor. This was done to save EDDC money. Ever increasing piles of dog dirt are a testimony to the success of the change. Something similar may have happened with pedlar's licences. The three councillors who are quoted below seem collectively to lack any idea of a solution - which may indicate that none of them has bothered to try to understood the problem sufficiently to propose a definite way forward.
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