THE future of speed cameras across the West Midlands is in doubt after councils proposed cutting funding for the controversial scheme.
Leaders of the region’s seven metropolitan councils have recommended axing £250,000 from the amount of money they hand to the West Midlands Road Safety Partnership, the body responsible for locating the cameras, which cost £2 million a year to run.
The council leaders also warned they would not be able to afford an estimated £1.2 million to replace ageing equipment and appealed to police chiefs to make a contribution towards keeping the system going.
The move follows a major change in the way the Government provides cash for road safety.
In the past, lump sums have been handed to councils and “ring fenced”, leaving the local authorities with no choice but to hand the money over.
The ring fencing has now been removed, giving West Midlands councils total discretion over how they use a £2.4 million Local Transport Services allocation.
Birmingham City Council chief executive Stephen Hughes stressed that it would be up to each individual council to decide what to do with the money.
The councils were thought to be split over the effectiveness of speed cameras, with Labour-controlled authorities tending to support the initiative and Conservative authorities taking a more sceptical view.
Mike Bird, the Conservative leader of Walsall Council, said many of the 454 speed cameras in the West Midlands were “obsolete”. There were better ways of reducing traffic accidents – including more patrols by police, he said.
Coun Bird added: “There will be people who shout foul, but we only have a finite amount of money and we have to make the best use of it.
“We are in control of our own destiny and can decide what to do about road safety.”
Coun Bird joked that the price of steel might justify dismantling the cameras and selling them as scrap metal.
He added:: “Speed cameras were effective many years ago, but the world has moved on.”
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