PENZANCE's householders will pay an extra 5 per cent a year in council tax in 2014-15 as their contribution to an increased parish precept.
The rise – £4.06 a year for a Band D property – can largely be explained by the decision to set aside £20,000 for a better CCTV system, on top of £10,000 budgeted annually for CCTV monitoring.
The rise, although above inflation, is nevertheless the lowest percentage rise among major towns in Cornwall.
Replacing the CCTV was opposed by several councillors, with Jack Dixon calling it unfair that the town was being asked to "fund the whole shooting-match"; originally the cost was to have been shared by bodies including the police and the business community.
Dennis Axford questioned its effectiveness, saying that when he ran a shop in Market Jew Street the window was smashed several times but the police told him every time that they did not have the resources to check whether the incident had been caught on CCTV. "I'm sure there are many people who don't believe we're getting value for money," he said.
Ruth Lewarne, who proposed a zero increase in the precept, said toilets, play areas and street cleaning were higher priorities. "We're one of the poorer towns in Cornwall and we have a duty to keep expenditure as low as possible," she said.
However, the budget was proposed by Roy Mann, chairman of the finance and property committee, and adopted by 14 votes to 5, with several councillors defending the expenditure on CCTV. Deputy mayor David Nebesnuick said CCTV helped ensure the council complied with the Crime and Disorder Act and was "absolutely essential for the health and safety of this town".
Michelle Paine said: "We have in excess of ten late-night bars in our town and if criminals feel they are being watched, they are less likely to commit that crime."
Town clerk Simon Glasson pointed out that £20,000 was "a worst-case scenario", and added that there might be opportunities in the future for the business community to extend the CCTV system as part of the Business Improvement District process.