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£250,000 big screen 'not suitable for outdoor use'

PUBLISHED: 02:12 03 September 2009 | UPDATED: 11:51 06 July 2010

The Big Screen in the Market Place, Great Yarmouth. Picture: EDP library.

The Big Screen in the Market Place, Great Yarmouth. Picture: EDP library.

A £250,000 big screen could end up as one of the country's most expensive bus time tables after Yarmouth Borough Council expressed concerns over its reliability in the open air.

It was heralded as a 21st century way of promoting Yarmouth.

But now a £250,000 big screen could end up as one of the country's most expensive bus time tables.

The screen was one of three unveiled in the resort more than five years ago to publicise events in the town.

However it was removed after it suffered electrical faults three years ago.

Yesterday it emerged that the screen has now been fixed by manufacturer ADI but will probably not be installed back at its town centre home as Yarmouth Borough Council is unsure of its reliability in the open air.

Because of the screen's history of faults and doubts over its robustness in inclement weather the council is looking to place it in a sheltered area instead.

One of the suggestions for the screen is that it could be used as a hi-tech bus timetable at the busy Market Gates bus station.

The idea is one of several mooted by Graham Plant, borough council cabinet member for regeneration and tourism, who admitted it could be seen as the most expensive bus timetable in the country.

If the screen breaks down again it will cost the council about £3,000 to take down and send off for repair.

And the council has also admitted that the town's other two screens on the seafront will only be used sparingly on special occasions such as high profile football matches to save the authority £70,000 a year.

Mr Plant said: “We are stuck between a rock and a hard place with the screen. We are not confident it will work properly.

“We have been talking about ideas for the screen - one of those being the bus timetable at Market Gates. Some people would say it would be the most expensive bus timetable in the country.”

It was originally hoped that the three screens would attract enough advertising from local firms and attractions to run them - but the money never materialised leading to financial loss for the council.

To help save £70,000 in running costs the council has also redeployed the officer responsible for the screens.

The £900,000 screens were funded out of a £20m seafront regeneration project.

Bernard Williamson, chairman of the council's scrutiny committee, said that people in the town had a right to be disappointed at the amount of money that had been spent so far on installing and operating the little used screens.

He said: “I think people have got a right to ask questions. The whole issue has been long running. How are other councils able to have effective and sustainable large screens as an integral part of their town centre and commercial experience?”

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