"It's time to turn our speed cameras back on" - Councillor Gary Hopkins
SWITCHING off traffic cameras has led to more people "jumping lights" in Bristol, according to a former city transport boss.
Lib Dem councillor Gary Hopkins warned that the lack of a deterrent may also lead to more accidents like that which killed 27-year-old teacher Jake Thompson.
Mr Hopkins argued that the cameras should be switched back on as they are "self-financing" and only require the cooperation of the council and police.
Mr Thompson was killed on the Three Lamps Junction on the A37 by a lorry which was travelling 38mph in a 30mph zone moments before clipping his head as he stepped out to cross the road.
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Witnesses at an inquest, where the cause of death was found to be accidental, said the light was "on the cusp" of changing from amber to red.
The investigation into Mr Thompson's death – which happened in May 2011 – has now been reopened by police.
At the cabinet meeting last Thursday, Mr Hopkins urged the council to work with police to get enforcement cameras back in use and avoid future collisions.
Mr Hopkins said: "It's not just speed cameras but red light cameras which people are regularly jumping in this city.
"There was a tragic accident on the Wells Road not that long ago which is now being investigated.
"It was shown on the tachograph that the lorry had actually been speeding – of course we didn't have speed cameras to find that out."
Mr Hopkins argued that enforcement cameras should be "switched back on" through cooperation with police.
He said: "It's not a matter of budget it's a matter of the two partners getting together to deal with this.
"The red light cameras is something which can't really be enforced in any other way."
Before the meeting, Mr Hopkins sent a letter to mayor George Ferguson and Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens stating that enforcement cameras can be "self funding".
In the letter he mentioned how fees paid by offenders taking Speed Awareness courses – offered to them after being caught speeding or jumping a red light – can pay for the deterrent.
Speaking to The Post, Mr Hopkins added that he was in favour of the cameras being reintroduced – but not as a "cash cow" money-making exercise.
He said as speed enforcement has declined it has become more common for motorists to "push it that little bit more" on the roads.
The city's 37 fixed point speed cameras and traffic light cameras were switched off in April 2011 as part of a nationwide cost-cutting exercise.
It was left to local authorities to make the final decision on whether to cut the deterrents.
The Safecam partnership was abolished, leaving the cameras – 20 of which were red light cameras – switched off indefinitely.
A police spokesman Simon Whitby said the fixed cameras had been replaced with six mobile enforcement units across the Avon and Somerset area which are deployed "when and where" they are needed.
Mr Whitby said: "Neighbourhood beat teams work with local people to identify areas where speeding and traffic offences can be a problem.
"Community Speed Watch schemes are also effective with volunteers trained to use speed detection equipment."
The number of people taking Speed Awareness courses in the Avon and Somerset area dropped from 43,797 in 2010 to 24,704 last year.
The revenue generated by the Speed Awareness course fell from £1,750,621 in the year 2009/10 to 952,175 for the whole of 2012.
Police are set to issue a fresh appeal for more witnesses of the collision which killed Mr Thompson.