THE city council will pay £25,000 from its reserves towards manning Salisbury’s CCTV system.

The council’s services committee voted unanimously to release the funds, which will be matched by city businesses through the Business Improvement District.

The decision came amid news that camera operators would stop working on July 31, ten days earlier than previously expected.

At Monday night’s meeting, city councillors expressed anger at the way Wiltshire council had withheld information about the changes, which will see a new £500,000 system installed with no one to run it.

Cllr Matthew Dean said police and businesses had indicated to him that a manned, reactive service had “enormous value”.

And he said police had foiled a “significant” shoplifting attempt worth more than £1,000 in the last month thanks to the camera system.

“The prospect of not having a manned service would be actually unacceptable to our residents and our businesses in the city centre,” he said.

Council leader Andrew Roberts described communication from Wiltshire Council as “shocking” and “very disappointing”.

He said: “There has been no proper opportunity for us to look at the question of what is the right way of running a CCTV system.”

Cllr Roberts added: “We are very fortunate that Salisbury is a very low-crime city and people feel safe here and to change the system with such short notice I think is just wrong.”

Salisbury Business Improvement District (BID) business manager Steve Godwin told councillors that firms had been “absolutely amazed and shocked” by the news Wiltshire Council was pulling out of running the system and said the consultation was “not acceptable”.

Urging councillors to approve the grant, he said: “We have until Friday week to put into place some kind of emergency package.”

Plans are for the system to be manned by volunteers, including former police officers, military personnel and security guards, and co-ordinated by paid staff.

Mr Godwin admitted the solution was not ideal but said Wiltshire Council thought the system could be fully manned by volunteers like it is in Warminster.

But he pointed out that the town has just four cameras compared to Salisbury’s 134.

The BID board, which meets in private, agreed unanimously to match the city council’s £25,000 grant on Tuesday night.