Thursday, 23 October 2008

Swindon Tories pass death sentence on vulnerable road users

Swindon’s Tory council has unanimously voted to get rid of the town’s fixed speed cameras.

The two Tories who led the campaign against speed cameras are Peter Greenhalgh and Roderick Bluh.

In the case of one of them their decision is not entirely lacking in self-interest since Roderick Bluh, the leader of the Conservative-controlled council, was banned for three months after he collected 12 penalty points on his licence for speeding.


This news will be celebrated by motorists across the land, chief among them Jeremy Clarkson, presenter of BBC’s Top Gear who has in the past voiced heart-felt support for Mr Greenhalgh on his programme.

That’s classically lazy and prejudiced journalism from the Press Association. This news will only be celebrated by petrolheads and reckless risk takers, not by careful motorists, who in reality form the majority. National opinion polls have always shown that the majority of drivers support speed cameras (and ignore the results of crappy online polls run by local newspapers, where you can vote 200 times if you want to, and which are statistically worthless).

Michael Wills, North Swindon MP, said: “I’m very concerned about this decision. All the evidence shows that speed cameras are effective in reducing road accidents. “I have seen too many heartbreaking cases of people in Swindon whose loved ones have been killed or maimed by speeding drivers.“I am surprised the council did not conduct a full and thorough consultation with the people of Swindon before taking such a radical step which could effect the lives of so many people.

It is believed to be the first time a council in the UK has challenged the Government over the issue. Chief Inspector Ian Copus, head of the Wiltshire Police roads policing unit, said there was evidence that speed cameras had reduced accidents and saved lives. Collision statistics for Wiltshire and Swindon for the 12 months ending in April showed a reduction of more than 30 per cent in the number of people killed or seriously injured compared with pre-speed camera levels.

"For children under 16 years the reduction is 47.7 per cent," he said. "At the core camera sites in isolation, the collision statistics indicated a 69 per cent reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured. For children under 16 years the reduction is 58.5 per cent." At core sites in Swindon, in the three years before cameras were introduced in 2002, an average of 19 people were killed on the roads every year.

"Since safety camera enforcement began at these sites the average number of persons killed or seriously injured is 5.9 per year, a reduction of 69 per cent," he said.

Elsewhere, new ‘average speed cameras’ are being installed, since they work: “The 'average safety camera system' was used in Norfolk when the Highways Agency undertook road works in Dereham on the A47. Compliance and safety at the site were at high levels.”