Good on Swindon council for finally saying what the rest of us have known for quite some time - speed cameras have become a money-raising scam rather than a road safety measure.
The Borough Council have today announced that they are considering stopping their annual £400,000 payment for speed cameras in the town - as they are concerned that the scheme is more about bringing in fines for the Treasury than saving lives.
Councillor Peter Greenhalgh, head of transport in Swindon, said they:
"are a blatant tax on the motorist. They are being used as a cash cow. I do take exception to the positioning of some mobile speed cameras. They are designed to raise revenue. I think enough is enough. There are much more important things we as a council should do instead of acting as a law enforcement arm of this government."
Here, here, Cllr Greenhalgh.
How refreshing it is to hear a council smash apart one of the biggest taboos in Government. The speed camera has been used far beyond its practical applications for cynical reasons, and as a result it has become increasingly discredited as a piece of road safety equipment.
Predictably, Anne Snelgrove MP (right, with her beloved speed camera) has blown her top - especially as she's PPS to the Transport Secretary, Ruth Kelly. Her charge that the council are somehow "playing politics with lives" sounds a bit cheap when you consider that the Government have transparently been using the road safety argument to squeeze money out of motorists. In a dizzying feat of illogic she also suggests that the council are trying to pursue a "speed camera stealth tax", saying "Policy on speed cameras should be about saving lives not making a profit". Yeeees - will you be giving back the money raised from cameras tot he taxpaying public then, Anne?
Swindon are absolutely right to say that things like car-activated signs that flash up your speed when you are going over the limit are apparently more effective, as well as being less exploitative. Hopefully some of the money saved will end up back in taxpayers' pockets, too.
I'd love to find out how much support Anne Snelgrove gets for her "Hands off our speed cameras" campaign. I suspect people aren't flocking to her banner...