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 Post subject: Essex on the back foot
PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2004 09:29 
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Speed cameras 'there to stop accidents'

BY RODDY ASHWORTH

March 9, 2004 06:48

THE top police officer in Essex has insisted speed cameras in the county are placed solely to prevent accidents and that there can be no suggestion they are sited to make money.

But last night a Conservative MP questioned why road death figures in Essex had increased year by year despite the fact a record number of the cameras have been brought into use.

Chief Constable David Stevens made his comments in a report to be considered by the Essex Police Authority next week.

In the document he wrote that the criteria for a permanent speed camera site was that there should be evidence of at least four collisions resulting in death or serious injury per kilometre of road over three years.

There should also have been at least eight collisions per kilometre of road which resulted in personal injury during the same timeframe.

Essex currently has 94 fixed speed camera sites as well as 384 mobile sites.

Plans for another nine sites in the county as well as a further 54 mobile sites are in the pipeline.

Mr Stevens predicted that for the 2004/2005 financial year, the cost of the cameras would be £5.8 million.

He anticipated around 108,000 speeding tickets would be issued bringing in a total of £6.5 million in fine revenue, of which just under £700,000 would be given to central Government.

"It will be seen that since every site has an evidenced justification in terms of increasing road safety there can be no suggestion that cameras exist in order to make money," Mr Stevens wrote.

However West Chelmsford Tory MP Simon Burns said: "Why has the number of deaths on Essex roads gone up at the same time as we have a record number of cameras in the county?

"Why is it that £500,000 raised in revenue for the cameras did not go back to road safety in the county, but went instead directly to Gordon Brown's Treasury?"

Mr Burns stressed he had no problem with speed cameras provided they were placed where there was a known traffic problem.

"I would also like to see all the money raised put back into road safety ? not more cameras, but remedial work to roads to make them less dangerous," he said.

And last night Andrew Howard, head of road safety at the AA Motoring Trust, said that although he would probably agree with Mr Stevens the public's perception was that the cameras were used as a way of making money rather than improving road safety.

"The difficulty is the public doesn't believe a word of it, whatever the authorities say. The whole matter is shrouded in secrecy."
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Comment: Nice to see the AA talking some sense.

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