Funds which enable local councils to install new speed cameras could be dramatically cut as part of Govt plans to balance the nation’s books.
The Daily Mail reports that the Chancellor, George Osborne, intends to scrap grants worth tens of millions that are handed at present to councils for speed cameras.
The number of cameras in England has trebled over the past 10 years – meaning that we have more than any of our European neighbours.
In 2001 there were 1571 speed traps but the most recent figures showed that in 2007 we had over 4300. German has 3000 cameras, Italy has under 2000 while France has fewer than 1000. Britain’s roads are currently among the safest in the world, although in recent years the rate at which road deaths has fallen has lagged behind the rest of western Europe.
At present, the Treasury ‘earns’ £110m a year from fixed penalty tickets issued to motorists. It gives back an equivalent sum to councils to spend on road safety. It is thought that around £60m of this is spent on installing new cameras. But it is expected that Mr Osborne will call a halt to spending on new cameras as part of £6bn of efficiency savings he’ll announce as a first step to closing the £156bn budget deficit.
Local councils will still be able to install new cameras. But it is now likely that they will have first to make a case for doing so. They will also have to fund cameras from council tax. Since spending money this way is likely to prove unpopular with local people, it is unlikely that many more will go up. While Mr Osborne’s action will prove a hit with hard-pressed motorists, not everyone is in favour. Road safety charity Brake says cameras are proved to reduce speed, reduce the number of crashes and so reduce road casualties.