Town hall bosses scrap 'cash cow' speed cameras

speed cameras

'Cash cows': Swindon Borough Council has announced plans to scrap 16 speed cameras

A town is planning to scrap 'cash cow' speed cameras because they are a 'blatant tax on the motorist'.

The move by Swindon Borough Council would make it the first in the UK to ditch the devices.

Town hall bosses say the £60 speeding penalty fine is 'snatched' by the Treasury and the council does not receive a penny.

Many of the town's speed cameras are not in use because the council believes it should receive the revenue, not the Government.

Now the Tory-run local authority has announced plans to end its contract with the Wiltshire and Swindon Safety Camera Partnership.

The partnership, which has been running for five years, operates 16 fixed speed cameras, three red-light cameras and other mobile traps.

But the council claims that the £320,000 it pays into the partnership each year should be spent on cheaper road-safety schemes such as better street lighting and improved road surfaces.

Tory councillor Peter Greenhalgh said: 'These are far more effective than speed cameras which, I feel, are a blatant tax on the motorist.'

'There are much more important things we as a council should do instead of acting as a law enforcement arm of this Government.'

'We treat road safety very seriously, but the £320,000 we pay into the Partnership goes straight into the Government's pockets.

'We've never received anything back. We feel this money could be spent on a more effective range of local safety measures such as improved road surfaces and lighting.'

Earlier this week, Conservative Transport spokeswoman Theresa Villiers said a Tory Government would ensure speed cameras were 'about saving lives rather than raising revenue'.

If the recommendations are passed on October 22, the council will have to carry on paying into the partnership until April next year, when the deal expires.

Cameras needed to 'save lives rather than just soaking the motorists for more cash,' she said adding there should be more emphasis on catching rogue uninsured, untaxed and unlicensed drivers.

The  row follows council claims that the Government allegedly refused to hand over the profits of the town's fixed Gatsos and temporary hand-held cameras.

Town hall bosses say the  £60 penalty fine is 'snatched' by the Treasury.

All councils in the UK are now  handed money from the Government to invest in partnerships.

But  Swindon Borough Council said Government pressure made it difficult to invest in alternative road safety schemes.

At present, many of the town's speed cameras are out of action because the council believes it should receive the revenue from speeding fines instead of the Government.

Mr Greenhalgh said the council would use the £320,000 to improve road surfaces and cambers, install vehicle-activated speed signs and lighten-up junctions.

Earlier this year, Labour South Swindon  MP Anne Snelgrove accused council leaders of playing 'politics with lives' and launched a campaign to retain the cameras which she denied raised cash for the government.

Speed cameras are also  facing the axe in Portsmouth because they are failing to slow down motorists.

The City Council which is considering withdrawing almost £400,000 pounds of funding from the body charged with the positioning and maintenance of cameras.

Seven of the city's much-despised fixed cameras would be removed if the Tory-run council decides to keep its cash and instead negotiate directly with police to monitor speeding drivers.