The cuts victim that won't provoke any tears: speed cameras

To their opponents, they represent the evil eye of the nanny state, or at least devices to squeeze money out of motorists. To their supporters, they represent a key tool for ensuring safer roads. Whatever the truth, speed cameras are on the way out.

Twenty years after their mass introduction at the British roadside, the coalition Government is fulfilling a Tory pledge to do away with the yellow boxes which snap speeding drivers, by drastically slashing the funding that local councils receive for road safety.

Many local authorities will, the Government intends, no longer be able to fund speed camera schemes. The £95m that the authorities in England are currently awarded annually for road safety programmes is being cut by £38m.

Oxfordshire is likely to be the first council to close down its network and may switch off its 72 cameras as early as next Saturday, with other authorities likely to follow soon.

The road safety minister, Mike Penning, Conservative MP for Hemel Hempstead, was unrepentant about the Government's decision. "In the coalition agreement the Government made clear it would end central funding for fixed speed cameras," he said.

"Local authorities have relied too heavily on safety cameras for far too long, so I am pleased that some councils are now focusing on other measures to reduce road casualties. This is another example of this Government delivering on its pledge to end the war on the motorist."

However, the decision was fiercely attacked by supporters of cameras as a tool for bringing down accidents. "Speed cameras are a really cost-effective way of managing speed, which is one of the biggest issues on our roads," said Ellen Booth, of the road safety group Brake. "To get rid of them would be a backward step and we would really be risking people's lives."

The shadow Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, agreed, arguing yesterday that removing cameras which had been shown to reduce road casualties was "a big, big mistake". He said: "Everyone who has analysed this has said that speed cameras have been an important part of the dramatic improvement on our roads. The carnage on our roads every year has gone down dramatically. It is a kind of a saloon bar view – 'These bloody speed cameras, get rid of them'."

But that saloon bar view – if such it is – has resonated with the Conservatives, who made a manifesto promise that no new cameras would be funded, and the pledge to "end the war on the motorist" was made by the Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, on his first day in office in May.

One of the loudest complaints for motorists' groups is that the cameras have become revenue raisers rather than speeding deterrents; they allege that accident rates are not falling, although the devices raised £87m in fines in 2008-09.

One notorious camera on the A350 in Poole, Dorset, raises £1.3m a year. Anti-camera campaigners complain there have been no serious accidents on the stretch of road for a decade.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

    £15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

    Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

    Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

    Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

    £18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

    Day In a Page

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
    Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

    The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

    Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
    Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

    A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
    How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

    How books can defeat Isis

    Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
    The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

    The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

    The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
    Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

    Young carers to make dance debut

    What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
    Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

    Design Council's 70th anniversary

    Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
    Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

    Dame Harriet Walter interview

    The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

    Bill Granger's winter salads

    Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
    England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

    George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

    No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
    Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links