CHESTER’S historic Rows along Watergate Street will be protected by CCTV cameras for the first time from this week, it has been announced.
For years the fire service, council and police have expressed concerns about yobs vandalising, urinating and smoking on the listed wooden structures.
But without constant surveillance, the culprits have often been able to walk away unchallenged, until now.
Three new cameras have been installed on both sides of the street, meaning the entire Rows network should now be visible to eagle-eyed CCTV monitoring staff.
The project has been funded by Cheshire West and Chester Council and Cheshire Fire Authority, which contributed £25,000 and £5,500 respectively.
Cllr Samantha Dixon said: “Parts of Watergate Street Rows contain very significant, listed buildings. These important heritage sites now have 21st century protection with watching eyes making sure their history and fabric remains intact.
“I welcome these three new cameras which will provide protection for the residents living on the Rows and our visitors. They will also be a reassuring bonus for local businesses based on the Rows who have backed this initiative.”
The cameras can swivel through 360 degrees and are monitored at the council’s Town Hall CCTV Control Room which is staffed and operational 24 hours every day.
Dedicated and highly trained council CCTV officers work closely with Cheshire Police who are based in the same building.
The initiative has been supported by council conservation officers, Chester Civic Trust and English Heritage as well as other organisations as the cameras and their operation offer protection against heritage crime, including fire, vandalism and urination.
Ahead of installation, Listed Building Consents were required as well as approval from owners and tenants of all the properties where the cameras are sited.
Cllr Eleanor Johnson, chairman of the Chester Fire Board, which requested funding from the Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Members of Cheshire Fire Authority were more than happy to help fund such an initiative as this, as our aims are not only fire prevention, but community safety as well.”