Labour may insist speed cameras are 'for safety not cash'

By Paul Waugh
Wednesday 31 December 2003 01:00

Thousands of speeding motorists could be spared driving bans after the Government revealed it would consider Tory plans to change the way Britain's network of road cameras is used.

Tony McNulty, aTransport minister, said that he would also look at proposals to ensure cameras were geared towards safety rather than raising cash for police forces. Mr McNulty spoke after the Conservatives announced their plans to scrap penalty points for minor speeding offences captured by the roadside cameras.

Under the proposals, fines would still apply but thousands of motorists would avoid getting points on their licence from offences registered on the majority of Britain's 4,500 speed cameras. An estimated two million people received £60 fines and three penalty points in the past year. Motorists face losing their licence when they reach the 12-point limit.

Damian Green, the Tories' transport spokesman, argued that points should only apply in areas where the risk of death was greatest, currently covered by fewer than 1,000 cameras. While drivers would not receive points for speeding in most areas, the penalties for those breaking the limit near schools or in areas with high numbers of pedestrians would be increased, he said.

"Laws should be properly enforced but the other side of the coin is that the law needs to be respected. The danger is that millions of people are starting to think that the law is being imposed in an arbitrary way," he added.

Mr McNulty said cameras were in place strictly for road safety and not to raise funds. But he agreed that any cameras that were not contributing to safety should be removed. The cameras on Britain's road network raise around £16m-£17m a year, but he said the Government was writing to all councils and police forces to make sure cameras were only being used for road safety.

He said he would not dismiss the Tory proposals "out of hand". "I am more than happy that we look at what Damian Green has been suggesting and if there is some merit in it, it's something we may well take on board," he told BBC Radio 4's The World At One.

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