Northamptonshire Road Safety Partnership announces it is to close

Government cuts will lead to the closure of an award winning road safety partnership in Northamptonshire, which last year saw lowest number of deaths and serious injuries on the counties roads since records began. The news throws in to doubt the future of the counties network of speed cameras.

Northamptonshire Road Safety Partnership has said that cuts to the county council budget will mean it would lose £1m per year in funding and therefore would not be able to carry on.

Like similar organisations across the country the Northants partnership funds speed cameras, educational courses, and new road signage. County road safety partnerships are usually part funded by local authorities and part funded by the police, with government money providing most or all of the local authority element - that was the case for the Northamptonshire partnership. With that funding now removed the burden for paying for the partnership and the speed camera network now falls to the police – like most police services the Northamptonshire force faces cuts to its budget.

Speaking to the Northampton Chronicle, Councillor Heather Smith (Con, Prebendal), cabinet member for roads, yesterday said: “It is costing quite a lot and the funding has been removed by the Government, so we’re not getting any money to run the partnership.

“No decision has been taken yet on the future of speed cameras, but I would speculate the mobile cameras are likely to go. But that would be a police decision.”
Northamptonshire Police have as yet made no comment on the future of either the fixed or mobile cameras on the county's roads. In some parts of the country it is the fixed cameras that have been switched off and the mobile ones – which tend to be extremely effective that are switched off.

The problem for road safety partnerships and local authorities when it comes to funding speed cameras is that the last government did not allow them to retain the revenue raised by the cameras to maintain them – instead that money went back in to central government coffers and the government paid for the cameras through grants to local authorities. Interestingly the new coalition government seem uninterested in changing the funding formula for speed cameras and so is likely to see a fall in money raised from them as the cameras are switched off.

In theory at least the simple solution would be to let councils keep the revenue from the cameras and spend that on the upkeep of the speed cameras on their roads with either central government taking any extra revenue or that money being used to plug gaps in road safety budgets caused by the government's funding cuts.

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