THE future of CCTV surveillance in Ryedale towns has been thrown into doubt because of a row over funding.

The need for effective CCTV coverage has been one of the key priorities of Ryedale police in a bid to crack down on anti-social behaviour, especially late night drinking in town centres such as Malton.

Businesses back the scheme but critics have questioned why council tax payers should fund it.

And on Monday, Pickering Town Council rejected not only a request from Ryedale Cameras in Action for an extra 20 per cent in funding but threw out by a narrow majority the £1,800 a year they already dish out for the scheme.

Those against the continued funding of the scheme questioned its value and whether it was an efficient use of the money they contribute.

Malton Town Council has been pressing for a CCTV scheme to continue and has contributed £3,300 a year.

But Norton Town Council, which also met on Monday, decided not to take any decision on funding until they knew the outcome of a reconvened meeting of Ryedale District Council which was taking place last night (Tuesday).

The original meeting of that council three weeks ago came to a halt because of a walk-out by the Conservative group.

This followed a two-hour protracted row between the Conservatives and the Liberal group over council leader Coun Keith Knaggs’s call for some provision to be allocated from the New Homes Bonus of £439,779 towards the skate park in Norton and the CCTV operation.

A formal report to Ryedale District Council had recommended they should approve in principle that the entire allocation of that money should be ringfenced into a Ryedale Development Fund for spending on projects which delivered or protected employment within Ryedale.

At that meeting, Liberal group leader Coun John Clark hit out at the proposal to specify two projects and his group challenged the view there had been a promise or, at least, an expectation, that finance would be available for them.

He told the Gazette: “The point is that if the council decided last February not to continue funding it from the end of September, how have we come to this point?

“It is the fact that someone appears to have made a promise about funding and has, therefore, cut across the democratic process that annoys me.”

Denys Townsend, treasurer of Ryedale Cameras in Action, told the town council on Monday that an application for funding was submitted to the Community Investment Fund about a month, ago in the hope of securing two years’ money.

But Ryedale District Council’s policy and resources committee had then resolved that such funding should be available for just one year.

A proposal was put by Coun Mal Danks they should cease their funding of the scheme. And that was agreed by five votes to three with one abstention.

She said: “I think we are wasting £1,800 a year because if you look at the figures, they are just no use to Pickering.”

Coun Joan Lovejoy said: “Having looked at the figures they seem to be of more use to Malton and Norton but are of no use to Pickering whatever.” She also felt that businesses should make a contribution if they were to be kept.

But Coun Stephen Jensen, who favours the system, said: “We should be pushing to make sure they work properly.”

Mr Townsend told the Gazette yesterday: “I am very disappointed that the leaders of our communities want to jeopardise this very valuable scheme and the contribution it makes to community safety.”

Insp Andy Everitt declined to comment on the town council’s decision, but said: “I am aware that applications for funding for CCTV and other community facilities are with Ryedale District Council but I am unable at this stage to comment on any specific elements of funding for CCTV.”