Sunday, July 06, 2008

Big Brother and Small Minds

If you doubt that the snooping culture has reached epidemic proportions in our local council offices then look no further than Elgol in the south-west of Skye. Highland Council have put up a CCTV camera that is trained on the jetty because according to their director of technical services. “There had been ‘some issues’ last year involving various users of the jetty and the council had decided to set up the CCTV to try and improve the management of the facility. The CCTV is fixed and concentrates on the jetty and immediate area. No one is monitoring the CCTV. It is on a permanent recording system and would only be checked if the council had been notified of any incidents. No incidents have been reported since it was installed."

Apparently there have been some petty arguments on the jetty between competing boat owners anxious to take tourists to see neighbouring islands. Meanwhile almost every resident of this 100 strong community have signed a petition seeking the CCTV’s removal – and rightly so. What kind of message does this send to tourists? What kind of ‘big brother’ mentality exists in Highland Council to even begin to think that this kind of stuff makes sense?

The ‘we have the technology’ argument seems to be an increasing mind set in local councils. Here in the Borders twelve ‘portfolio holding’ councilors are being given Blackberry mobile phones so they can get their emails 24/7. How daft is that? Do councilors really need to stay in touch to that degree? I don’t think so. And they justify it by saying, “it only costs £5,000.” Well I can think of a lot better ways of spending the money. Technology is no substitute for thinking

1 comment:

Colin Campbell said...

What happened to nosy neighbours. My mind boggles at the number of surveillance devices in the UK. There are some here in Australia, but mainly in malls and banks. Not so many in public places. Thank god.