ROAD safety campaigners have warned Portsmouth City Council it risks increasing the number of deaths on the roads by axing its speed cameras.
The council has pulled out of the Hampshire Road Safety Partnership, which owns the six fixed speed cameras in the city.
As a result, the cameras were all switched off yesterday.
The move has been criticised by the Royal Society for the Protection of Accidents.
Its head of road safety, Kevin Clinton, said: ‘Speed cameras help save lives because speeding increases the risk of an accident happening and increases the severity of injuries in an accident.
‘We know everyone’s under pressure to make cuts and save money, but cameras should continue to be used as they are cost-effective and a powerful deterrent.
‘A recent study estimated switching off all the UK’s cameras would lead to around 800 more deaths and serious injuries on our roads every year.’
Cameras were introduced to Portsmouth in 2002, since when the number of injuries where they are sited has fallen 49 per cent on average, to 37 per year.
But the council, which spent around £250,000-a-year to be part of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Road Safety Partnership, has pulled out, questioning their continued usefulness.
Transport boss Councillor Jason Fazackarley, said: ‘I’m sure there are people who are welcoming their removal, but I can also understand the concerns expressed over safety.
‘But we’re not doing this to decrease road safety. We will get around £106,000 back from the partnership, some of which we’ll use to replace the cameras with Vehicle Activated Signs, which will show people if they are speeding.
‘We’re not sure the purpose they serve any longer, as everyone who lives in the city knows where they are so they slow down when they get to them, and speed up afterwards.’
Cllr Fazackarley said the measure was also intended to help persuade Hampshire Constabulary to police the city’s 20mph zones.
Ninety-four per cent of Portsmouth’s roads have the limit, but the police refuse to enforce it.
As a result, the council has already begun proceedings to take the force to a judicial review.
Cllr Fazackarley said: ‘It’s another way this is being done for safety reasons.
‘We’re trying hard to negotiate with the police to enforce the zones. We can’t do that.
‘It’s very disappointing to be where we are, but we wouldn’t be considering it if it wasn’t necessary, and we didn’t think we could win.’