Local councils will have no option other than to turn speed cameras off due to budget cuts from the coalition government.
That is the view of David Sparks, the leader of the Labour group on the Local Government Association. He told The Daily Telegraph that even councils in favour of the cameras would be forced to switch theirs off due to the extent of the cuts.
Councils have to hand over fines received from cameras to the Treasury, but usually acquired the money back as part of a road safety grant. However, the coalition has cut this grant, leaving councils to pick up the bill for operating and maintaining cameras.
"I think there is a real possibility that the pressure on council budgets will be so severe that even those councils that are in favour of speed cameras will pull out of partnerships for financial reasons,” said Sparks. “I think this is an example of spending cuts having an impact that had never been forecast.”
Many of the original first-generation speed cameras, which use film, are nearing the end of their usable lives and councils are struggling to find the money to replace them with digital cameras costing around £40,000 each.
Cameras were switched off in Oxfordshire last month after the Conservative council removed funding for them, while the safety-camera partnership in Wiltshire and Swindon has already been axed. Labour-run Thurrock is also considering switching off cameras to save money.
Figures released yesterday by Thames Valley’s Safer Roads Partnership revealed speeding was up past two of the cameras in Oxford it had monitored since the switch off.