SALISBURY’S CCTV has been switched off for the past month and may never come back on, with plans for a new system now hanging in the balance.

The city’s camera network was unplugged when Wiltshire Council sold the building that housed the control room in mid June.

And plans for Salisbury to receive a new system from Wiltshire Council, hoped to be up and running by Christmas, are now “dead in the water”, according Salisbury City Council leader Andrew Roberts.

He says Salisbury can no longer afford to run the new system after Wiltshire Council rejected the city’s attempt to take over Laverstock and Ford parish on Tuesday.

It was declared a “triumph for localism”, but Salisbury stood to earn around £300,000 a year in council tax from the extra 3,000 homes. It will now lose 300 homes the other way, along with £30,000 in council tax.

County Hall promised Salisbury a new state-of-the-art, fibre-optic system worth £500,000 when it abandoned the city’s old network in August and made the camera operators redundant.

But, since then, the promised new system has become tied-up in the asset transfer deal — in which Wiltshire Council wants to offload buildings and services including the Market Place to Salisbury City Council.

Now that deal looks set to be scrapped, despite having been agreed by the city council last month. If it does not go ahead, Salisbury could be left without CCTV indefinitely.

Cllr Richard Clewer said there was “one last chance” that Citywatch CIC could take over the system, but the “clock is very much ticking.”

“If it doesn’t happen quickly then it won’t happen,” he said.

Citywatch, a community interest company set up to run the CCTV network, has offered to take responsibility for the system, but the council is yet to respond.

Salisbury BID’s Steve Godwin said it would be a “terrible tragedy” if Salisbury were to lose its CCTV permanently.

The BID’s chairman, Amanda Newbery, said the Citywatch volunteers had been using the cameras of individual businesses over the past month, as well as its radio network.

She said that shop cameras gave “amazing coverage” of the city, and it was also helping to strengthen links between businesses, the, police, and CCTV operators.

Before Tuesday’s vote, Ms Newbery, who also runs the Chapel nightclub, had hoped the new system would be in place by Halloween.

Citywatch volunteers, hired to help run the old system when Wiltshire Council abandoned it last year, will be kept on.

Neither Wiltshire Council leader Jane Scott nor finance chief Dick Tonge could be reached for comment.

Previously Baroness Scott has criticised the city council for taking a “ridiculous” amount of time to agree the asset-transfer deal.

And Cllr Tonge has previously ruled out investing in CCTV without transferring the system to the city council.

Salisbury’s new police chief, Inspector Pete Sparrow, said: “We are very disappointed that there is a gap in the CCTV service as officers use this valuable tool on a regular basis in the course of their investigations and for the detection of crime.

“We would encourage a swift resolution to the situation and for the CCTV provision to be reinstated as quickly as possible.”

Wiltshire police commissioner Angus Macpherson said he too was disappointed and he hoped an agreement could be reached between the two councils.

A Wiltshire Council spokesman said: “We intended to have a continuous CCTV service while we transferred to a new system, however due to events out of our control the project is taking longer than anticipated. Pennyfarthing House has been sold – as was always our intention once a suitable offer was made.

“We are currently going through the procurement process for the new CCTV system which we will invest in once the complete asset transfer has been agreed by the city council.”