Still no answer to resort’s big screens

STEPHEN PULLINGER It t was once billed as a 21st century solution to publicising events around the resort.But with the festive season fast approaching borough council bosses are resigned to their £200,000 Market Place big screen being out of action for the second Christmas in a row.

STEPHEN PULLINGER

It was once billed as a 21st century solution to publicising events around the resort.

But with the festive season fast approaching borough council bosses are resigned to their £200,000 Market Place big screen being out of action for the second Christmas in a row.

And while shoppers are again faced with a blank picture rather than seasonal films and adverts, borough council bosses are still drawing blanks themselves in finding a solution.

More than 12 months after the screen failed, preparations are being made for it to be craned on to a trailer and sent to an electronics firm, independent of the manufacturer ADI, for further tests.

On learning that the latest work will cost up to £3,000 - coming on top of the £3,500 spent on abortive repairs earlier in the year - the council's opposition Labour leader Trevor Wainwright described the whole screen saga as “an absolute nonsense”.

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He said: “We have had consultants looking at it to no effect at all and this is throwing more money down the drain when it could turn out to be beyond repair.

“It is really just a big television and ones like it are working up and down the country 24/7 so we have to ask why it has become such a disaster in Yarmouth.”

The latest expense will heap more embarrassment on the council after a damning report to its scrutiny committee highlighted glaring errors in the way the screen, and two others on the seafront, had been bought, short-cutting the tendering process and not carrying out proper risk assessments.

It was also revealed that the screens are costing council taxpayers £51,000 a year to run when it had been hoped they would pay for themselves.

Council regeneration manager Tim Howard said it was important to remove the screen quickly as it would be difficult to do it once all the Market Place Christmas decorations were up.

Experts had recently carried out tests on site but their findings were inconclusive and it was necessary to carry out a more detailed examination in a laboratory.

He said: “We need to understand what's needed to repair the thing and how much that will cost. We are working on the basis that it will be repairable although there is a point where it would be beyond economic repair.”

Cabinet member for regeneration Graham Plant said the manufacturer, ADI, was an acknowledged leader in the field so they should not have encountered such problems.

However, he was optimistic the screen would be up and running again and they had learned replacement parts could be sourced in China.

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