Ultra-modern CCTV is to be installed in a market town’s oak-framed public barn – putting it alongside a busy town centre and deprived former mining village – following years of anti-social behaviour problems.
Barnsley Council is tendering for a supplier to install equipment at Penistone’s market barn, it has emerged, alongside existing plans to replace the ageing CCTV system which currently covers Barnsley town centre and the village of Grimethorpe.
The barn is of medieval appearance, with an open sided construction, but was built around the turn of the century as part of a wider redevelopment of Penistone town centre and has been a disappointment to some residents because it has struggled to find a use beyond two traditional weekly markets.
Its open construction, and the presence of wi-fi, makes the barn attractive as a gathering point for youth gangs, which have been blamed for causing damage, littering and leaving older residents feeling uncomfortable.
Barnsley Council is already examining proposals which could result in the building being closed off at night, which would involve the installation of shutters.
Now residents have been told new CCTV equipment could be in place by the summer, with high definition cameras which could be monitored from police stations in addition to control-room staff.
Similar equipment will be used to replace existing cameras in Barnsley town centre and Grimethorpe, which has suffered deprivation problems since the closure of its pit and associated industries in the 1990s.
By contrast, the Penistone district is Barnsley’s most affluent area but still has youth nuisance problems.
The barn already has CCTV cameras, but they are said to be old and ineffective.
Residents who attended a community safety meeting were told of the development, announced after the barn had been identified as the priority for policing in the district over the last 10 months.
Police have recently surveyed 100 people in the vicinity of the barn and 16 of those reported problems, including gatherings of youth gangs and the smell of cannabis.
However, of those only two had reported incidents to police.
Insp Andrew Norton told the meeting: “We have targeted patrols, with specials bolstering that into the evenings.
“There comes a point, from the police side, where we are doing everything we can. Youths have rights also.
“Unless we have particular evidence against them, we would not look at a closure order,” he said.
Options to alleviate the problem included creating other activities, he said, “It is back to the local area to ask what you want to do.”
The meeting heard a youth group which has been launched at a bicycle shop, operated as a community business, with funding from Barnsley Council had been successful.
Coun Dave Griffin said closing off the barn was being considered as part of the council’s £5m principle towns initiative, where cash is being spent to improve the borough’s smaller town centres.
“If it is closed off, we need to make sure we have got diversionary activity. Youths need somewhere to feel safe and somewhere that is being watched in some way,” he said.