United call for increase in security

A small group of Forfar business-people have called for increased security at the foot of Castle Street after their businesses have been targeted in the last year.

The shop owners have paid the price after vandals have smashed windows and thieves have entered their premises. They are facing increased insurance premiums and have had to foot the bill for repairing the damage, with one shop-owner asking - “what’s the point?”

All three - Asif Yaqoob of Ali’s Newsagents, Kay Morton of Robbie & Nicoll and Jonathen Smith of Colin M. Smith - are asking for an additional security camera to be installed on the corner of Castle Street and Canmore Street.

Asif first made a plea for additional cameras in the area last April after his shop window was smashed.

Speaking to the Dispatch on Monday after another neighbouring business was targeted by thieves he said: “I have gathered information from a number of businesses which have been targeted. They have tried in the past to get the council to provide an additional camera but they have refused to put a camera in due to financial issues. This is a really busy part of the street. There are two pubs, restaurants and shops. I feel the council should improve the surveillance and give us a chance. I would like to have a meeting with local councillors and council officers to find out what their plans are, rather than just waiting for something else to happen.”

He said that, due to planning restrictions, he is unable to put up shutters over his windows. He continued: “We are quite restricted with what we can and cannot do. But the council is not doing anything. We should be working towards a solution, rather than just leave it and wait for something to happen. Small businesses just can’t survive if insurance premiums go up and up. But what is the council’s budget for us? Small businesses generate something for the council, bringing people to this area - but what are they doing for us?”

Local florist Kay Morton also backed the call for a security camera on the corner of Canmore Street and Castle Street.

Her business was broken into for a second time in eight months at the end of June. On the first occasion cash was taken and her till was wrecked, and two weekends ago a number of items, including a digital camera, mobile phone and landline telephone were taken.

She said: “I am going to install a security alarm system - which is another expense - but at least that will deter people. My insurance premium is going up, the landlord has the cost of replacing the door. It’s sickening. You just feel some days, “what’s the point?” We are trying to keep the town alive. Imagine if there were no wee shops in the town, how depressing it would be.”

In calling for an additional camera, Jonathen Smith said his windows have been smashed a number of times. As well as small items taken from the windows, he has had to pay the price of having the windows replaced, as well as increased insurance premiums.

He said: “One camera on the corner would be ideal. The police keep giving us the same line, that they are not able to add a camera to the system as they keep saying it is full and there is not the capacity to add another camera. Our windows have been smashed recently on no less than four occasions. How many more times?”

A spokesperson for Angus Council said: “We are not aware of any recent requests from business owners for improved CCTV surveillance in this area of Forfar but are happy to discuss the situation further with our community partners, including Tayside Police. Anyone witnessing acts of vandalism or other criminal behaviour should contact the police.”

Burgh Inspector Ally Robertson of Tayside Police pledged to “sit down round the table” with representatives from Angus Council and the business community to respond to the community concerns and to discuss options available. He said: “We help run the cameras in partnership with Angus Council. We appreciate the business community and realise how tough it is for them and will do anything we can to help them out. That includes “old fashioned” policing with officers patrolling the areas as well as the use of the advanced systems. It is important that we have a vibrant business community in Forfar and that they feel they are supported. They are the heart of the town.” Constable Ally Smith, the community liaison officer in Forfar, will visit the businesses involved with a view to setting up a meeting between the businesses, police and council representatives.