THE idea of improved security camera coverage at Bedale Hall has been shelved because of the projected costs involved.

The hall management committee explored the idea after Hambleton District Council announced it was planning to place three CCTV cameras in Bedale, one in Bridge Street car park and two watching the central area of the town from positions in North End and South End.

The hall has one security camera, installed by the management committee several years ago, but it is of only limited use.

The committee has faced problems of vandalism to the building, as well as under-age drinking and other anti-social behaviour in the grounds, while equipment in the children's play area in the hall park has been damaged in the past.

Bedale Hall finance and general purposes committee has investigated the possibility of buying a modern CCTV camera to the standard adopted by Hambleton and trying to link it into the district council monitoring system.

Further action has been shelved, however, after it was learned that the camera would cost £20,000 and the hall management committee would also face annual maintenance costs of £3,000 a year. It was agreed that the costs were prohibitive and that damage to the hall did not warrant the expense.

A "stand alone" digital camera system costing about £7,000 was suggested but it was unclear whether the quality of the images would be good enough to secure a conviction.

John Noone, chairman of the hall management committee, said: "With the camera we have at the moment we can observe but apparently cannot use evidence in court because it is not up to the expected standard. There is a concern that when the three cameras are put in the town by Hambleton, people causing problems elsewhere could move up to the area of the hall and the church.

"With vandalism, under-age drinking and other problems there are all kinds of reasons why a camera would be useful here.

"We talked about buying one as a contribution to the Hambleton system, and to have it linked in would make a tremendous difference, but the cost is far too prohibitive and there have even been questions about the effectiveness of a separate digital system. To get anything that is going to do the job properly we would need to be linked into the Hambleton system.