Funding cuts are forcing Warwickshire County Council to reduce the use of mobile and fixed speed cameras less than a month after the latter were turned back on in neighbouring Oxfordshire with Thames Valley Police assuming responsibility for their operation.
Since the coalition government made a 40% cut in the Road Safety Grant in the weeks after its formation nearly a year ago, a number of local authorities have been forced to rethink their use of speed cameras and in some cases consider dispensing with them altogether.
With Warwickshire losing £1.2 million in government grants that previously funded speed cameras, the county council has provided just £250,000 in its 2011/12 budget to pay for the devices.
As a result of that, says a report from the council’s road safety officers to its communities overview, “Enforcement has been scaled back significantly,” says the Coventry Telegraph.
"The budget restrictions have also reduced the funding available for other measures such as safety engineering schemes (including road humps) and education, training and publicity initiatives.”
From now on, the council and Warwickshire Police will deploy cameras at locations with the worst safety record. The report recommends that the council ensure that each fixed camera is in operation at least some of the time, and for longer at those with a history of accidents.
“This will provide the greatest deterrent to excessive speed, as drivers will not know when a camera is operating,” continues the report.
In future, there will be three mobile camera operators instead of six, and fewer vehicle activated signs will be deployed due to cost.
Speed cameras are said to have made a “significant contribution” to safety in Warwickshire, where the number of deaths and serious injuries over the past decade has fallen from 639 to 301.
Councillor Richard Hobbs, cabinet member at Warwickshire County Council for community protection, commented: “Our policy of targeting resources to prevent the greatest number of casualties and create the safest road network possible has served us well, with serious and fatal casualties reducing faster than the national average and government targets.
“However, as we confront the biggest spending challenge the county council has ever had, we need to review the way we deploy our available resources to ensure we continue to deliver the greatest possible road safety benefits for Warwickshire’s road users and communities.”
Other issues that will be considered by the council include the use of speed awareness workshops as well as community initiatives such as reducing speed limits, traffic calming measures and an education programme in schools.
Other local authority areas in which cameras have been reduced or dispensed with over the past year include Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Northamptonshire, Somerset, Staffordshire, and the West Midlands.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.