Tories put brake on growth in speed cameras

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Indy Politics

fixed speed cameras will no longer be funded by the Government if the Tories win the next election, the Conservatives will announce today in a move designed to win the votes of frustrated motorists.

Cameras, a ubiquitous sight on Britain's roads, are Labour's favoured method of cutting traffic speeds, and the number of cameras is thought to have trebled since the party came to power in 1997. Councils bid for a share of the annual £110m government road safety grant to pay for them.

However, the shadow Transport Secretary, Theresa Villiers, will today announce that central funding for the devices would be withdrawn by the Conservatives. The party is backing the wider use of "vehicle activated signs", which flash warnings and tell drivers to slow down if they are found to be breaking the speed limit.

Councils will still be able to install fixed speed cameras, but will have to use funds raised from council tax, and prove that installing a new camera is "better than alternative safety policies".

Newer "average speed cameras" will still be given limited funding by a Tory government, but only where there is a specific need, such as at road works. Ms Villiers also promised to reform the driving test to raise awareness of the dangers of speeding.

"Labour's army of speed cameras is not the best way to make our roads safer," she said. "We will switch to alternative, better ways to improve road safety. Labour's dependence on fixed speed cameras has blinded them to the effectiveness of the alternatives. It is time to say enough is enough."

Safety experts said that speed cameras had helped to reduce the number of road deaths over the past decade, while a poll for the AA found that 70 per cent of drivers supported camera use.

"One has to be careful about moving away from cameras as they are an important part of road safety policy," said Edmund King, president of the AA. "We would be quite concerned if this meant a hole in the policy. There is no doubt that cameras have slowed people down over recent years."

Kevin Clinton, of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said: "If cameras are replaced with alternatives, we need to be sure those alternatives are as effective. The last thing we want is for drivers to think they can get away with speeding."

In numbers: Speed cameras

1,935

Number of cameras in England and Wales in 2000

5,562

Number of cameras in England and Wales in 2006

Change in speed at new camera sites

-30 per cent change in vehicles exceeding limit

-43 per cent change in vehicles exceeding speed limit by more than 15mph

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