Portsmouth could be next to axe speed camera funding

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Speed cameras could be axed amid fears they are soaking up large amounts of public cash while not being proven to have saved lives.

Portsmouth council leaders are considering cutting the 400,000 annual funding they give to speed cameras locally as the debate rages on as to whether there are better, cheaper ways to make the roads safer.

Senior council leaders have questioned the spending after a bust-up with the organisation which manages the camera network, the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Safer Roads Partnership, which they say has failed to tell them how many speeding tickets are being given out.

Leader of Portsmouth City Council Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: 'Six months ago we asked how many tickets were issued from different cameras.

'The partnership has refused to give us the data.

'I don't think it's acceptable that an organisation we give 400,000 a year to is not prepared to share information.

'At the moment I have no evidence it provides value for money at all.

'We will need to look very carefully at this. There are probably better ways of spending 400,000.'

His hardline approach comes after town bosses in Swindon threatened to stop funding Wiltshire and Swindon Safety Camera Partnership and look for more cost-effective ways of spending the cash.

Hampshire has 30 fixed camera sites operated by the partnership.

The biggest slice of the cash comes from Hampshire County Council – which contributes nearly 1.5m of its 2.5m government grant for road safety – but leaders there are solid in their support for the partnership.

Portsmouth City Council gives out almost 400,000, its total grant, while the Isle of Wight council hands over almost 330,000 and Southampton City Council stumps up 367,000.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Safer Roads Partnership spokesman Julian Hewitt said that the money funded more than just speed cameras, adding the success of the cameras in Portsmouth was demonstrated by falling road casualty figures.

'The measure of the success of speed cameras in Portsmouth is not to do with the number of tickets issued but the numbers of casualties reduced,' he said.

'In Portsmouth over the last three years up to March 2008 the number of collisions in which people were injured on our camera routes has fallen by 31 per cent.

'The partnership is in the process of seeking a meeting with Councillor Vernon Jackson to look at numbers of tickets issued at camera sites and to discuss any other concerns he may have.'

Spokesman for the Association of British Drivers Nigel Humphries said: 'Councils are pouring money down the drain that could be better spent on police patrols'