CCTV cameras could soon be switched off in a Birmingham suburb because money to fund them has run out.
The 14 security cameras were installed on Kings Heath High Street only two years ago at a cost of nearly £80,000.
But councillors claim their predecessors failed to budget for the cameras' long-term running costs.
Now, they say, unless a spare £270,000 is found, the cameras will be turned off at the end of December.
Councillor Emily Cox (Lib Dem Moseley and Kings Heath) said: "We have inherited a situation which is a complete financial shambles.
"The area's previous councillors did not seem to think about whether there was enough money to run the cameras after three years." He added: "We will do everything we can to keep the cameras turned on, but at the moment we don't know how we will fund them past the end of December."
She said Kings Heath was not the only suburb to be grappling with the high cost of CCTV cameras.
"I think this could be a city-wide problem. There was a flurry of applications for the cameras five years ago when they were the latest thing and thought to be an excellent way to prevent crime on high streets and in shopping centres."
In December 2000, Birmingham City Council and West Midlands Police agreed to apply for funding from the Home Office for eight CCTV cameras in Kings Heath.
The Government department agreed to pay for the cameras and their installation, but not their running costs.
The police and the council said they would provide the £73,800 needed to run the cameras for three years.
The Home Office and Centro, which runs public transport in the West Midlands, then agreed to pay for three extra cameras each and a total of 14 were installed and switched on in December 2002.
Stan Hems, chairman of the Kings Heath Business Association, said trade would be lost if the CCTV cameras were turned off.
He said: "Before the cameras, some stores would lose up to five per cent of their profits because of thieves.
"After the cameras were installed they noticed they were losing less than one per cent of their profits.
"CCTV has done a lot of good so it is absolutely tragic that the cameras might be switched off. It appears that the Labour administration just didn't see this coming, which is pretty unbelievable."
The control of Birmingham City Council was in Labour's hands until last June when a Conservative-Lib Dem coalition took power.
David Jepson, who represented Moseley and Kings Heath for Labour until he stood down last week for family reasons, said the CCTV cameras had been only a pilot project in conjunction with police, traders and the council.
"The Liberal Democrats and Tories have been in power for nearly a year so this is a poor excuse. They could have done something about the CCTV camera funding in that time," he said.
"In any case, the cameras are not just the council's responsibility.
"We went into this in partnership with the police and local traders.
"Perhaps in the future, CCTV cameras should be leased to avoid these sorts of problems."