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26 July 2010, 12:59
A senior figure at Northamptonshire County Council told Heart last month that about 20 percent of the fixed roadside cameras had been deactivated.
That's around nine out of 42 cameras - with Councillor Heather Smith saying it followed a review of the accident and road use data which showed the cameras were no longer needed.
Councillor Heather Smith, cabinet member for environment, growth and transport said: "They still serve a useful purpose of slowing traffic down even though there are no cameras in them but of course circumstances may change again and if we find speeds are a significant problem then they may get turned back on again - although that is not our intention at the moment."
However the people who run and maintain the cameras - the Casualty Reduction Partnership - have told Heart the figures are inaccurate. They say that three locations - not nine - will no longer have cameras in them. Furthermore, the other locations will now have cameras in them on a more frequent basis. This follows a review of all camera sites several months ago. The inactive machines are not being bagged up or taken down because of the costs involved.
The confusion over the figures has prompted calls for greater transparency in the cutbacks facing the road safety team. LibDem councillor Brendan Glynane told Heart: "I think this needs to be clarified properly. Injuries and death obviously cause untold trauma to the victims and their relatives and enormous cost to the emergency services and the NHS and we need clarification to make sure that what we're being told is what's actually happening."
Cuts by the coalition Government in the road safety budget mean that some local authorities will be under pressure to stop maintaining their cameras. Northamptonshire's Casualty Reduction Partnership has seen its budget reduced by almost £900,000 with some of that money going from this year's budget.
The road safety minister, Mike Penning, Conservative MP for Hemel Hempstead, said: "In the coalition agreement the Government made clear it would end central funding for fixed speed cameras."
He added: "Local authorities have relied too heavily on safety cameras for far too long, so I am pleased that some councils are now focusing on other measures to reduce road casualties. This is another example of this Government delivering on its pledge to end the war on the motorist."
But officials at the Northamptonshire Partnership have told Heart that despite their budget cuts there are no plans at the moment to stop using speed cameras altogether - like they are doing in Oxfordshire. Reductions in spending will come via cuts to education projects, marketing and staffing with some roles being made redundant.
In the financial year 2009/2010 more than 41 thousand motoring offences were detected in the county by speed cameras. The majority of those came from the 42 fixed-camera locations across the county. Five Camera Safety Vans detected more than five thousand offences. There are also six cameras sites to catch drivers going through red lights and they picked up over three thousand offences.
Northamptonshire County Council, in partnership with the police, is ultimately responsible for deciding how to fund the Casualty Reduction Partnerhship