Suffolk: Concern as speed cameras are switched off
09:00 14 July 2011
ROAD safety concerns were raised last night as it emerged all of Suffolk’s fixed speed cameras had been switched off.
More than £1million of funding for the speed cameras – some on key accident blackspots on the A14, A140 and A12 – was pulled by Suffolk County Council earlier this year and Suffolk police has decided they are too expensive to keep running.
The two speed cameras that still worked – out of nine across the county – were switched off on July 1, although the boxes are still in place.
But the chairman of Suffolk Police Authority has said she was “personally very upset” at the situation while a parish council said it regretted the loss of a camera on the A12 that had “saved lives”.
Suffolk County Council had voted to pull out of the Suffolk Safecam partnership in January. It stopped any funding in April and said it would cease speed camera operations by the start of July.
Suffolk police looked into trying to keep the fixed cameras running but said the cost of maintenance was too much, especially as many of them were in a state of disrepair or had stopped working. It said it had taken sole control of mobile speed cameras, which would continue.
But Joanna Spicer, chairman of Suffolk Police Authority, said there had been “confusion over the ownership of fixed cameras” and that members had only been made aware of the situation at a meeting on June 24, days before the cameras were due to be switched off.
“I am personally very upset that this has happened. I would obviously have preferred discussions to have taken place before the cameras were switched off but I have been assured that mobile cameras have been redeployed to those areas,” she said.
“The police had already agreed to take on sole responsibility for mobile cameras, for which additional funding was needed through increased charges on driver awareness courses. Clearly we, the police, need to make a decision about fixed cameras.”
The matter will now be discussed at the next meeting of the police authority on July 22.
Suffolk County Council confirmed that “all assets and liabilities” relating to speed cameras had been transferred to police on June 30.
A Suffolk police spokesman said: “Suffolk County Council took the decision to decommission the fixed speed cameras on Friday 1 July due to cost-cutting reasons.
“The fixed camera sites in Suffolk were not taken over by police due the cost of their maintenance and, as a result, these enforcement cameras are currently inactive.
“However, a reduction in speeding remains one of our main priorities and we continue to deploy mobile speed cameras to hotspots throughout the county, including in the vicinity of the static camera sites. We also have road policing officers with mobile speed detection devices and Community Speed Watch groups acting as a deterrent to anyone who thinks they can speed on our roads.”
But the decision was greeted with dismay at Benhall, near Saxmundham, where a fixed camera with a 50mph limit was placed leading up to a busy junction on the A12.
Parish councillor Chris Durrant said: “We are very sorry to see it go. We feel it has done a valuable job in saving lives. While there are still accidents at the junction, it has kept speeds down and made those collisions less serious.”
SPEED CAMERA SITES
Suffolk had fixed speed cameras at the following sites, although surveillance ended at some of the locations some time ago.
A1144 Normanston Drive Lowestoft
A1304 Hamilton Road, Newmarket
A140 Earl Stonham