Merseyside is set to join the growing number of areas around the country where speed cameras are being turned off because of funding cuts.
The Merseyside Road Safety Partnership learned earlier this month that it was facing a 27% cut in funding, but insisted at the time that it would maintain the same number of cameras.
But the Liverpool Daily Post claims that, while all 90 cameras on Merseyside will stay in place, the number actually operating at any given moment will be significantly reduced.
The drop in funding means there are not enough back office staff to prosecute the same number of speeding drivers.
Dave Foulkes, manager of the Merseyside Road Safety Partnership, said, “We’re not losing cameras, we are maintaining our numbers of cameras. But if you lose back office staff you lose the capability to maintain all of those prosecutions. You cannot process as many, so you don’t deploy as many cameras. We’re not getting rid of them, we’re just not deploying as many.”
Mr Foulkes confirmed Merseyside operates around 90 yellow boxes and has 20 cameras that are switched between them.
The partnership had previously said it would maintain business as usual despite cuts of around £400,000 in Merseyside’s road safety budget this year – part of a national cut of £38 million announced by the Coalition Government, which also announced the end of central funding for speed cameras.
Nationally, road safety partnerships have reacted to the cuts by axing some or even all of their speed cameras. All of Wiltshire’s speed cameras will be switched off this year, while Oxfordshire's 72 cameras were turned off last week.
Dave Foulkes said: “Speed cameras are still a deterrent as no one will know which camera is active. Anyone who is thinking of driving through one should know it’s a risky tactic.”
Liverpool Green Party councillor John Coyne predicted the move would lead to more deaths. He said: “Casualties will probably rise. I think this is a threat to children and other vulnerable road users. Speeds will rise. I think it’s a mistake to fine drivers who break the law, it causes the perception that this is a money raising exercise. Their licences should be taken, not their money.”