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  • THOUSANDS of speed cameras around the country are to be pulled down within weeks following a decision by the Government to halt the war on motorists.

    Ministers yesterday confirmed that cash for dozens of local councils to operate the unpopular devices is to be slashed.

    Road safety campaigners last night warned that the measure could lead to a surge in deaths and injuries.

    But many motorists were celebrating the death knell of the widespread council policy of using the snooping cameras to squeeze more cash out of road users in a highway stealth tax.

    Peter Roberts, of the Drivers’ Alliance, said: “This is a welcome move. The vast majority of speed cameras are more for raising revenue than road safety. There needs to be a review of every speed camera in the country. Those that are raising money rather than saving lives need to be removed as quickly as possible.”

    Road Safety Minister Mike Penning confirmed the cuts yesterday, saying: “In the coalition agreement the Government made clear it would end central funding for fixed speed cameras. Local authorities have relied too heavily on safety cameras for far too long so I am pleased that some councils are now focusing on other measures to reduce road casualties. This is another example of this Government delivering on its pledge to end the war on the motorist.”

    Adrian Tink, of the RAC, said: “Speed cameras have become a figure of derision among motorists. Most tend to believe they’re more about revenue than they are about road safety.”

    The review of camera networks follows a Government decision to claw back £38million from English local authorities’ 2010-11 £95million road safety budget.

    Shadow Home Secretary Alan Johnson led the backlash last night, claiming: “Everyone who has analysed this has said that speed cameras have been an important part of the dramatic improvement on our roads.”

    And Ellen Booth, of road safety group Brake, said: “It would be a disaster if these cuts were passed on in full by county councils to road safety partnerships.” Oxfordshire County Council was last night poised to be the first authority to abandon speed cameras.

    Virtually every camera in the county is expected to be scrapped – and dozens of other authorities are tipped to follow suit. Somerset, Northamptonshire, Devon and Cornwall are among the other areas set to scrap cameras.

    Councillor Keith Mitchell, leader of Tory-run Oxfordshire council, said that Swindon, Wilts, had cut its speed cameras last year “and they have not noticed any change in accidents”. About 6,000 speed cameras across the UK cost motorists an estimated £100million in fines every year.

    Speed cameras were first introduced in 1992 following concern about roads deaths. The Local Government Association said: “Some councils, it seems likely, will decide that they don’t need as many speed cameras.”

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