NORTHUMBRIA Police have been accused of cashing in on speed cameras across the county in a debate this week.
Manager of the Northumbria Safer Roads Initiative Ray King spoke to Northumberland county councillors at an overview and scrutiny meeting on Tuesday about funding requirements for the scheme to continue.
But after his presentation, Alnwick’s Independent councillor Gordon Castle said he couldn’t accept the claims about costs in the reports and called for a review before a decision was made to grant funding for the initiative.
Both Mr King and Chief Supt Mark Dennett of Northumbria Police’s Northumberland area command spoke about the benefits of fixed speed cameras across the county, but councillors had mixed opinions about the justification of costs.
Chief Supt Dennett said of the initiative: “We believe that it reduces accidents and therefore reduces death and serious injuries on the roads.
“In this area in the last 12 months, we have had 63 road deaths and that is an average figure in this force area every year.
“As someone who has had to knock on a door and tell people that their nearest and dearest has been killed on a road, I know it has a significant impact on communities.
“In Northumberland, there are 26 fixed speed camera sites where it is believed there is the greatest risk.
“So while the whole subject of cameras and speed enforcement is a difficult pill to swallow if you are on the receiving end, the majority of the public support it.
“This is a fully-costed service that reduces death and serious injury on the roads of Northumbria.”
But Coun Castle compared the county to Durham and said they had no fixed penalty speed cameras and similar accident rate.
In a debate at Stannington Village Hall, he said: “I’m not complacent about speeding, I think we should be looking at visually-activated signs more.”
But Mr King said that if one local authority pulled out of funding the initiative, it would be finished.
He said: “The police do not make a profit out of this.
“Every person we catch speeding costs money – the police are not in the business of profiting.”
A decision was made by the scrutiny committee to draft comments of the councillors views and take them to the Executive committee, which is to be held at a later date.