Huge cuts in the amount the Government gives councils for road safety means that thousands of speed cameras could be switched off.

Ministers have pushed through a 40% spending reduction in this area, which will limit the cash available to the road safety partnerships that operate the cameras. Councils expected £95m but now they’ll receive £38m less. At the same time – and as part of wider spending cuts – ministers have also withdrawn all funding for new cameras.

But it is likely that many of the grey and yellow roadside camera boxes will remain as a deterrent to motorists even if they no longer work. The cameras arrived in 1992 and since then their number has grown so that Britain has 6000 – more than any other European country. They generate an estimated £100m in fines every year. And latest statistics reveal that although we have some of the busiest roads, they are among the safest.

The Thames Valley Road Safety Partnership faces budget cuts of £600,000 and as a result votes this week to decide whether turn off all 92 speed cameras in Oxfordshire. The Devon and Cornwall partnership is understood also to be considering similar action.

Road safety minister Mike Penning told the Daily Mail: ‘in the coalition agreement, the Government made it clear it would end central funding for fixed-location speed cameras. Local authorities have relied too heavily on safety cameras for far too long.

‘So I am pleased that some councils are now focusing on other measures to reduce road casualties.’ However, road safety charity Brake has reacted ‘with horror’ at news of the intended cuts. The charity has already written to all local authorities chief executives urging them to ensure that road safety programmes are maintained despite the cuts.

‘We have a vast amount of evidence showing that cameras are extremely effective in cutting casualties and slowing traffic,’ said Julie Townsend, Brake’s deputy chief executive. ‘Turning cameras off, and pulling the plug on other important road safety work, is a disastrous blow for those communities relying on cameras to protect them.’