Page last updated at 03:20 GMT, Tuesday, 15 July 2008 04:20 UK

Town may cut speed camera funding

Speed camera
The government said cameras were there to save lives

A council could stop paying for speed cameras because it says they might not be the best way to make roads safer.

Tory-run Swindon Borough Council currently spends about 400,000 to fund speed cameras in the town.

Its leader, Roderick Bluh, said cash from fines goes to central government and there could be better ways to cut the number of accidents on roads.

It is thought to be the first time a council has challenged the government on the issue of speed camera funding.

'Cash cow'

Mr Bluh said the council was reviewing its involvement in the local safety camera partnership scheme.

"All of the fines that are collected go back through national government. So we don't get the fines to reinvest.

"We believe having done a lot of research - or my colleague in particular - that the evidence suggests, the government's own statistics suggest, that speed cameras might not be the most effective way to reduce accidents."

The move follows a shake-up of speed camera funding rules which mean the Treasury keeps proceeds of fines and then makes road-safety grants to councils.

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Fellow Conservative councillor, and head of transport in Swindon, Peter Greenhalgh, said the money spent on cameras could be spent on local safety measures instead.

"These are far more effective than speed cameras which, I feel, are a blatant tax on the motorist," he said.

"They are being used as a cash cow. I do take exception to the positioning of some mobile speed cameras. They are designed to raise revenue.

"I think enough is enough. There are much more important things we as a council should do instead of acting as a law enforcement arm of this government."

Hands off campaign

Anne Snelgrove, Labour MP for South Swindon and parliamentary private secretary to the Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly, said the council was "playing politics with lives".

HAVE YOUR SAY
Speed cameras should only be in high risk areas, such as outside schools, parks or hospitals
Nick K

The MP for South Swindon said the removal of the cameras could see road accidents and deaths rise and has launched a Hands off Our Speed Cameras campaign.

A spokesman for the Department of Transport said the funding decision was a local matter for Swindon, but added: "Safety cameras are there to save lives not to make money.

"There are 1,475 fewer deaths and serious injuries at camera sites each year.

"The government is clear that the best safety camera is the one that takes no fines at all but succeeds in deterring drivers from speeding."

Swindon Borough Council's Cabinet is due to consider the plans to withdraw from the Wiltshire and Swindon Safety Camera Partnership by September.


SEE ALSO
'Tougher laws plan' for speeding
09 Nov 07 |  Politics
How do average speed cameras work?
17 Oct 07 |  Magazine

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