Monday, January 03, 2011

One of our County Councillors is a weasel...

Here are two pictures, one being a long-tailed weasel, the other Guy McGregor, the portfolio holder for Transport on Suffolk County Council. One of them is cute, furry and has a basic honesty of purpose, the other is a Conservative.

This week, it has been announced that the Safecam Partnership, which funds speed cameras across Suffolk, is in jeopardy because of budget cuts. If the funding is axed, the County will save £1.2 million but, and this is a big but, there won't be any speed cameras in the county.

Now, as a non-driver, I don't have an axe to grind on the subject of whether speed cameras are a good thing or not. However, I do know that, especially in villages, traffic speed is a very sensitive issue. And where those villages are on busy roads, such as the A140 which links Ipswich and Norwich, there are a sense that speed cameras save lives.

Ultimately, you have to decide whether the cost of maintaining cameras outweighs the costs of loss of life and serious injury when excessive speed causes accidents. Yes, you can argue that people should obey the law, preventing the need for cameras, but the reality is that some drivers will speed if they think that they can get away with it. The rest of us pay for their stupidity by paying for traffic calming measures, speed cameras and the like.

But Guy McGregor doesn't think like that. He is quoted in the East Anglian Daily Times as accepting that the SafeCam Partnership had been very successful, and hoping that it would be able to continue as a service provided by the police. Or in other words, it's a really good idea, and we hope that the police will take it off of our hands. Saving to the council taxpayers of Suffolk? Nil. That is, if they can afford it.

Because, lest Mr McGregor forget, Suffolk Constabulary will need to find savings of about £6 million each year for the next four years, all of this from a relatively small budget - Suffolk has some of the lowest policing costs in the country.

So, Mr McGregor, if speed cameras are worth spending money on, then let's face the music and pay for them. If not, then we won't. But please spare us the weasel words as you pass the buck to someone else...

1 comment:

Jennie said...

Speed cameras are not worth spending on for the very good reason that every year since they were introduced road deaths have gone up, when for 80 years beforehand they fell every year. Research suggests that this is because when people are obsessively checking their speedo every 100 yards they are paying less attention to the road. The average driver takes their eyes off the road for over a second when checking their speedo; one second at 30 miles an hour is 44 feet of travel. That's enough space to run over several small children.

The other effect is that if the speed limit on a given road is 40, drivers will drive at 40 no matter what the conditions - fog, ice, no lights, whatever. Even to a non-driver, it should be obvious that this is manifestly unsafe.

Sadly, evidence is not really respected in the field of road safety, especially not when there is a prospect of cutting officer numbers to save money, and making money from fines.

In that respect it's very like a lot of the healthy eating/drinking myths which are perpetuated because people make money out of them, and the government can use them as a stick to beat people with for social control.

* shrug *

A better solution would be traffic lights, IMHO. Speed triggered ones are de rigeur on the continent; if you're speeding approaching a village, the traffic lights before you get there turn red. This stops people who are speeding, and doesn't take their eyes off the road. Simples.