At a meeting of Bedford Borough Council’s Environment Committee the Government has been slammed for ‘hoarding speed camera fines in Whitehall’ rather than returning them to the local area for further road safety measures.
The comments from Liberal Democrat Environment Committee Spokesperson Cllr Tim Hill came during discussion of the average speed cameras programme in Bedford Borough, which was the first area in the country to install the technology on local roads when Mayor Dave Hodgson introduced it in 2012.
The cameras have proved to be extremely effective in cutting speeding, resulting in requests for nearly 80 new camera locations in addition to the 32 already in place or in process.
A report to the committee confirmed that each set of cameras costs the Council around £85,000 to install and £2,500 to maintain annually, yet every penny of the fines from the cameras goes to central government.
Despite Mayor Dave and Bedford Borough Council lobbying for the installation cost of each set to be returned to councils for reinvestment in cameras and road safety, the Conservative Government has insisted on retaining all of the funds itself.
Cllr Hill told the meeting: “Average speed cameras are incredibly effective at bringing down speeds, as I know very well from my ward.
“Communities across Bedford Borough have benefitted from this Council being the first in the country to bring them in. That’s why we’ve got that long list [of locations] put forward by a wide variety of people.
“Instead of keeping the fines to boost its own coffers, the government should return the cost of installation of each set of speed cameras to communities to reinvest in road safety. That would be fair, it would build more trust in the system and it would help Councils like ours make our roads even safer.
“We know that the Mayor and the Council have lobbied for this, but the Government has flatly refused. If it had any sense of fairness and a real commitment to road safety, it would start listening to this authority and stop hoarding this cash in Whitehall.”
You can read the report on average speed cameras at item 7 on the committee agenda, and watch a full video recording of the meeting, here: https://www.councillorsupport.bedford.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=541&MId=5239&Ver=4