The astonishing amount of money generated by just one speed camera was recently revealed in Weston, North Somerset. In just 48 days, between 11 February and 31 March 2015, the single camera raised £191,200 in fines, which works out at nearly £4,000 a day!
All speed cameras in North Somerset had been deactivated in 2011 because central government had withdrawn its funding, but then Avon and Somerset Constabulary bought a number of these cameras for a nominal fee of just £1 each and switched them back on at the start of the year. It has proved to be a good investment from their point of view.
The solitary speed camera in Weston is positioned outside Worle Community School on the New Bristol Road. It can be argued that this is the best use of a speed camera, placed outside a school to protect students crossing the busy road, but a local spokesperson for the Alliance of British Drivers disagrees. "We would rather see police on the roads patrolling, spotting the things that cause accidents, like people using their mobile phones," he says. "Yes, there are times on that road where 30mph is too fast, when there are children milling around, but there are times of day when 30mph can comfortably be exceeded without endangering anyone. Speed doesn’t cause accidents, bad driving does."
"Drivers who ignore the speed limit are putting the lives of young people and their families at risk due to such irresponsible behaviour," says Worle’s head teacher, but if the point is to reduce speeding cars directly outside the school then surely there are other less punishing ways to do this? Traffic calming obstacles could successfully reduce the speed of passing traffic to allow children to cross the road without imposing heavy fines on drivers at all times of day.
It is also interesting to note that North Somerset Council declined to revive their area’s speed cameras because there had been no noticeable increase in road accidents since the cameras had been switched off. Surely that is the end result desired by everyone?
Tim Newark, South West TaxPayers’ Alliance