Avon and Somerset speed camera switch-off a 'disgrace'

Speed camera in Bristol
Image caption The cameras in Avon and Somerset are being turned off because of budget cuts

Road safety charity Brake has condemned a decision to turn off speed cameras in Avon and Somerset as a "disgrace".

Fixed cameras will stop working on Thursday after road safety budget cuts led to funding being withdrawn from the area's safety camera partnership.

Avon and Somerset Constabulary will now use a team of six mobile vans to enforce speed limits.

A statement from the police said they offered "the greatest flexibility in tackling excess speed".

The force said it would now work with other organisations "on a wide range of other road safety initiatives".

"Improving road safety remains a high priority for all the partners despite the challenging spending cuts," the force added.

A spokeswoman from Brake said the move was a "terrible betrayal of communities that rely" on speed cameras.

The spokeswoman added: "We know speed cameras are good at slowing down vehicles. They are proved to work and are cost effective - more so than police at the roadside."

Partnership disbanded

Bristol and Bath and North East Somerset councils have not yet made a decision over the future use of fixed cameras.

Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire councils have already taken the decision to pull funding from the cameras.

The area's safety camera partnership, made up of the local councils and the police, was disbanded as a result.

Digital cameras will stop working on Thursday.

A driver education programme for motorists caught driving marginally over the limit has also been temporarily closed.

Avon and Somerset Police are currently tendering for a new operator for the programme but it could be months before the replacement is in place.

A spokeswoman for Bristol City Council said it was concerned about the situation.

"The council is keen to see the education programme back in operation as soon as possible," the spokeswoman said.

"It is very effective as an even-handed solution in the fight against dangerous speeds, and we do not yet know when it will operate again."

She added that the council wanted to maintain an "effective level of enforcement and we continue to explore solutions with the police".

Avon and Somerset Police said it "recognised the importance of the education programme" and was now working to join a nationally-organised scheme.

"We maintain our position that should one of our local authorities wish to fund any fixed camera sites, we would process the penalty notices and facilitate either a prosecution or a referral to a driver programme.

"Our commitment to working jointly with partners on reducing the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads remains absolute."

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