Council may stop funding speed cameras

A town council is threatening to withdraw funding from its speed camera network after describing the cameras as "a blatant tax on the motorist".

The Conservative-run Swindon Borough Council wants to withdraw the £400,000 annual funding it pays the local safety camera partnership because it says it receives no income from the fines.

Peter Greenhalgh, who is in charge of the council's transport policy, said that he would rather see the money spent on traffic calming and vehicle-activated speed signs, which cost as little as £5,000 to install.

It is the first time that a council in the UK has publicly accused the Government of installing speed cameras to make money rather than prevent accidents. Mr Greenhalgh, the member for highways, transport and strategic planning said: "We treat road safety very, very seriously. But we pay about £400,000 a year to the partnership – money which goes straight into the Government's pockets. We don't get anything back. We feel that this money should be spent on a range of local safety measures.

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

"They are a very small part of our road safety measures and there are much more important things we as a council should do instead of acting as a law enforcement arm of this government."

Although local authorities are given money to invest in road safety schemes, Mr Greenhalgh said they were pressured to put the money into safety cameras.

"The Government expects councils like us to invest all the money into partnership schemes, but I think enough is enough," he said.

Anne Snelgrove, the Labour MP for South Swindon, defended the cameras and accused the council of playing politics. "People's lives should not be put at risk by withdrawing from the scheme," she said.

The council is to make a decision on funding the camera network within the next two months.

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