Speed cameras may be switched off in Suffolk

SPEED cameras may be switched off as Suffolk County Council's cabinet makes a final decision over the future of funding for the SafeCam partnership.

It was controversially revealed earlier this month that the partnership's funding was in jeopardy as a result of the council's budget cuts and now the cabinet will be asked to approve the decision at its meeting on January 11.

Axing the funding would save the county council nearly �1.2 million but it could lead to cameras across Suffolk being switched off – unless the county police force can stump up the cash.

The cameras may be the driver's foe but councillors are being warned today that the true cost in both financial terms and human lives could be far greater than the actual saving.

According to a report prepared for the cabinet, the Suffolk SafeCam Partnership has cut an average of 14 fatalities a year and 80 serious injury accidents.

In 2003, the year the Partnership was formed, 60 people died on Suffolk roads and this year the number of fatalities currently stands at 19.

The partnership costs �1.5m a year to run with the council meeting around 80pc of that figure.

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However, government figures show each fatal accident carries a cost of �1.6m – so over the years the partnership has paid for itself over and over again.

Suffolk councillor with responsibility for transport, Guy McGregor, accepted that the SafeCam Partnership had been very successful, and hoped it would be able to continue as a service provided by the police.

He said that if more drivers who were caught speeding were to pay for special training courses as an alternative to going through the courts, enough money could be generated to keep the service afloat.

Mr McGregor said: 'The SafeCam Partnership has been very successful in Suffolk. We only have a small number of fixed cameras and more mobile ones.

'I think in other parts of the country when cameras were first introduced the fines did go back to the camera partnerships and they were seen as milch cows.

'That allowed some people – like Jeremy Clarkson – to stir up public distaste for them. But in Suffolk our cameras have never operated like that.'

A spokesman for Suffolk police said they would be studying the figures over the next three months before deciding whether they could take over funding.

He added: 'Whatever the decision, there will still be enforcement of speed limits. If the cameras are switched off we will still have police officers in patrol cars and with speed guns monitoring drivers.'

The news may have been met with fear from safety campaigners but drivers will be celebrating – especially in Henley Road where mobile speed cameras have resulted in fines for hundreds of motorists.

In 2009 more than 1,400 motorists were clocked breaking the speed limit – compared to just 21 the previous year.

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