Scrapping speed cameras will cost lives, claim

A LEADING Essex Politician has called for more “average speed checks” on motorists after claims lives will be at risk if councils scrap traditional speed cameras.

A report released today bye motoring organisation, The AA, has said recent camera switch-offs have alarmed residents leaving a “road safety policy void”.

The AA has written to Transport Secretary Philip Hammond about the matter and is due to meet ministers.

Since coming to power the new Government has pledged that local authorities are best placed to decide how to make their roads safer.

But concerns have been raised about what will happen if counties such as Essex follow the example of the Thames Valley safer roads partnership which announced camera operations will be scrapped following a cut in funding.

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The AA said the effects of the Thames Valley switch-off in Oxfordshire were already being experienced by residents.

The group’s president Edmund King said: “There is currently a road safety policy void which could lead to an increase in crashes.

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“Locally, decisions are being made based on harsh financial reality, coupled with perceptions of what the Government’s longer-term intentions might be.

“Local people are more concerned about the ‘battle to save lives’ on local roads that could become race tracks rather than any ‘war on the motorist’.

“Cameras will never be loved but their use is accepted by the majority of motorists.

“If cameras are situated in the right place, on the right roads with the right speed limit, they can be effective and will be accepted.”

Robert Chambers, chairman of Essex Police Authority, told the EADT he did not favour scrapping the cameras and said they still had a vital role to play at accident black spots.

“In Essex I think there should be more of the average speed cameras which I think are more effective than some of the others where you see a driver slow right down and then speed up again as soon as they are past it.

“If you can keep to an average speed, whether that is 20 or 50 or even 70 miles per hour, it means the traffic is flowing much more evenly.

“You have to be fair to both sides – think about the motorists but think about the safety issues too.

“But where there are really bad accident black spots, my personal view is that they are made safer by the speed cameras.

“Where there have been problems, but there are not anymore, it makes common sense for them to go though – it’s about striking a balance.”

Mr Hammond said: “Road safety is a priority for this Government.

“We believe that speed cameras can be an effective tool in reducing speeding but as Mr King has said, they should not be seen as the first and the last resort.

“Local authorities, not central Government, are best placed to decide how to make their roads safer.

“That is why we have given them more responsibility and freedom to set their own priorities.

Local people, not Government ministers, should decide how many speed cameras there should be on their roads.”

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