City to scrap its speed cameras

Havant council leader will retire from politics after local elections

SPEED cameras are to be removed from Portsmouth's roadsides after the city council decided to pull funding for them.

Portsmouth City Council has contacted the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Road Safety Partnership to say it will end its membership from March 31, when the current financial year ends.

The city spends about 250,000 a year to be part of the partnership, and has six 'fixed', six mobile and two average speed cameras within its boundaries.

But it said government funding cuts had left it facing an 'impossible choice'.

Council leader Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: 'If it comes to weighing up improvements in road safety against caring for vulnerable young people, it's a decision we don't want to have to make.

'But we can't justify spending money on speed cameras if it will impact on people who desperately need care.'

Latest figures show the number of injuries where the fixed cameras are sited fell 49 per cent on average, to 37 accidents per year.

The number of fatal collisions, and those which caused serious injuries, also went down from an annual average of 13 in the three years before the cameras were introduced in 2002, to seven per year from 2005 to 2008 - a drop of 42 per cent.

But the cash the council used to pay for its membership came from the government, and has now been withdrawn.

City transport boss Cllr Jason Fazackarley said: 'We have told the partnership we will withdraw.

'It's not fair to people to endanger jobs and services to keep cameras in place.'

Tory Cllr Luke Stubbs added: 'Statistical evidence suggests vehicle-activated signs, which light up when cars exceed the limit, are as effective in reducing speeds as cameras, and they're under a tenth of the price.'

Hampshire County Council has not yet indicated whether it will continue funding the partnership, which also has seven speed cameras in Fareham, two in Gosport and three in Havant.

Nisha Devani, the partnership's project manager, said: 'We will continue as before, as we have not had any notification any other council wants to leave.

'We are sorry Portsmouth will leave because we think the cameras have had a good effect in reducing accidents, but we do understand the whole country is in trouble and big decisions have to be made by everyone.'