Fixed speed cameras in Bristol could be axed due to cash cuts
FIXED speed cameras in and around Bristol could be abandoned as police and councils struggle to find the money to operate them.
Safecam, the partnership which operates 37 roadside cameras in the region, is being disbanded, with a number of redundancies.
Now Bristol, South Gloucestershire and Bath & North East Somerset councils are in talks with police over possible sources of funding to keep fixed speed cameras switched on.
All local authorities have had their road safety grants from the Government slashed from April. Neighbouring North Somerset and Somerset county councils have already axed funding for fixed cameras.
The remaining three councils are hoping Avon and Somerset Constabulary, which has pledged to continue using mobile cameras to catch speeding drivers, can also pay for fixed roadside cameras.
It is understood the force may have enough spare cash from the Driver Education Training Programme – funded from fees paid by drivers who have been offered a training course instead of paying a fine after being caught travelling marginally over the limit – to pay to run the cameras from April.
But the force has stopped short of committing money to fixed cameras, saying only it will "support" councils that want to promote them after it takes over from Safecam.
North Somerset Council has not funded fixed speed cameras for the last three years and has instead used its road safety grant for measures such as road improvements, vehicle-activated signs and some mobile cameras.
Elfan Ap Rees, the authority's executive member for highways, said fixed cameras were "only revenue-raising" devices.
From March 31, Somerset County Council will turn off its fixed cameras.
Due to the shortage in funding, the Safecam management team will be disbanded and some staff will be made redundant while others will be transferred to the police.
Jobs in the Bristol unit which processes fines will be cut as well as three jobs based in Taunton.
Police spokesman Simon Whitby said: "The police have pledged to continue running – and may increase use of – mobile cameras, particularly on roads where there have been fatalities and injuries or at locations which are causing community concern. We will continue to support councils who wish to promote fixed cameras as part of the campaign to make the roads safer.
"Local authorities are considering their own responsibilities and whether they then wish to continue running fixed cameras."
Hundreds of fixed speed cameras have already been switched off in other parts of the country and the Bristol area has 30 fewer now than it did two years ago.
South Gloucestershire Council spokeswoman Sarah Hudspith indicated the authority, which contributed about £142,000 to road safety schemes including Safecam last year, did not expect to subsidise speed cameras in the coming year. She said: "The operation should be self-funding.
"The council is committed to road safety and cameras are just one element of a wider strategy."
City council spokesman Peter Wood said: "Talks are ongoing with the police over the size of the non-police contribution."