BUSINESS owners have voiced their frustration that a CCTV system in a North Yorkshire market town is to be switched off despite a long-running fight to keep the cameras rolling.

Two years ago Richmondshire District Council said it would turn off Richmond’s CCTV cameras in a cost-cutting measure, but Richmond and Lower Swaledale Business Association (RLSBA) pledged to fund the system itself through donations from residents and businesses.

The association also collected more than 3,000 signatures in a petition calling for the cameras to be saved for the sake of the town’s security.

But now RLSBA can no longer afford to keep the system running so the cameras will be switched off on Monday (March 31).

The CCTV costs about £25,000 per year and the district council had agreed to continue to manage the contracts with all costs met by RLSBA.

RLSBA chairwoman Melva Steckles said: “Unfortunately the association has found it is not able to fund the system with private funding.

“It is not through a lack of enthusiasm or trying but it really was a big ask for us. It is a shame because a lot of hard work had been done by members.”

Former chairman of RLSBA Philip Wicks said despite a rush of support from smaller, independent retailers and businesses in the town, the group realised last autumn that its future was unsustainable.

He said: “It is really disappointing and frustrating. Smaller businesses have been very supportive but what we were missing were larger, national businesses and pubs.

“Despite our best efforts we were not able to generate enough funding and we did not have the confidence to enter into a contract for another three years.”

He added: “We need Richmond to be safe, and it is very important for the night time economy. I think it’s a backward step and it’s such a shame.”

Pat Wilson, business and community manager at Richmondshire District Council, said: “The council decided CCTV would have to be switched off a couple of years ago but funding was taken on by the association.

“The cameras will remain in place until late summer so if further funding can be found before then they could be switched back on.”

But Mr Wicks warned: “Once the cameras are taken down they will be gone for good – it will be too expensive to re-install the entire system.”