CCTV cameras in Penryn town centre will be switched off from April 1 after Cornwall Council's contract to provide the service.

Responsibility for CCTV provision has been devolved to town councils across the county, and Penryn has said it will not be providing an interim service as it considers its options for an alternative system; or the possibility of scrapping coverage for good.

PCSO Lewis Vague, who works in the area covered by the cameras, said: “It's a shame because from a police point of view it's a huge deterrent.

“It helps to catch offenders, whether as part of the identification process or to catch them in the act.

“As a police officer I use it, but it's also a safety thing, and I know if something does happen it will be seen.”

Penryn Town Council had been offered a deal by BT to take over transmission of Cornwall Council's CCTV data on a temporary rolling contract, but chose to decline.

Currently the town clerk is in discussion with their counterparts in Truro and Falmouth, and with Cornwall Council officers, to examine the options for an alternative and less costly system.

Rob Brinkhof, the landlord of the Seven Stars pub in the town centre, said: “It doesn't worry me; I've got my own CCTV which covers the outside and the inside.

“Maybe Penryn Council should use the money to get a private company in.

“They all say it's so expensive but it's not really. There are better solutions to find, probably with the money they could get a better deal.”

Currently transmission of the data costs £8,000, with additional monitoring costs of £5,000, and has been estimated these could be cut by half, however some councillors believe CCTV is not cost effective.

Councillor Martin Mullins questioned the effectiveness of the system. He said: “We discussed how effective the cameras are. Whenever something happens they are pointed the wrong way. Is it a service we don't use?”

Councillor Mark Snowdon agreed, saying it was a lot of money that was going out.

He said: “We could look at other systems at a better price but you have got to do a lot of damage to cover £7,000 or £8,000 a year in the main street.”

However Councillor Cait Hutchings said the council would look “foolish” the council in the event that CCTV was required, asking: “Will we all look foolish together if we cut the cord now?”

It was suggested that a cheap option would be to use the existing cameras, which will remain in place, and to re-route them to the council offices for monitoring, and another option may be to provide funding for local traders to set up their own camera networks.