New digital cameras ‘not cash cows’

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A digital upgrade of traffic cameras across South Holland will make them more efficient – but not create the “cash cows” drivers fear are being introduced across other parts of the country.

Some councils have been rushing to install the new super-Gatso that catches 50 times as many drivers as standard traffic cameras.

The cameras – known as ZenGrab LaneWatch Mk2 – cost £17,000 each and feature two lenses and night vision.

They are being snapped up in expectation of a law change allowing the use of cameras to fine drivers for a greater range of offences.

In recent months, transport minister Norman Baker said all councils should have the power to fine drivers for passing no-entry signs or making illegal U-turns and right turns.

However, Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership says motorists in South Holland need not worry about the new cameras being introduced in Lincolnshire.

Spokesman John Siddle said: “I have read about these cameras but I can assure drivers that Lincolnshire is not getting them.

“We are, however, giving the ones we have a digital upgrade, which will make them more efficient and hold more data.”

The changes come just five months after Whaplode’s camera was named as the county’s second top “earner”, beaten only by one on a busy stretch of the A1 near Grantham.

Drivers had coughed up more than £214,000 in ten months after being caught by an A151 road safety camera since the speed limit dropped from 40mph to 30mph.

Some 3,577 drivers were snapped between June 30 last year and April 10 this year. That is more than 14 times the number caught in the whole financial year 2010-11 when fewer than 250 drivers flouted the old limit.

Almost all cash earned by cameras goes to the Government through fixed penalty or court fines.

Some drivers pay £90 to go on a speed awareness course to avoid adding points to their licence – £35 of that goes to the police for administration fees and the rest funds Lincolnshire road safety schemes.

But Mr Siddle said: “We have 51 cameras but only one third of them are operational at any one time.

“None are manned 24 hours a day or 365 days a year.

“In spite of what people think, speed cameras are not cash cows – they are simply there as a deterrent to keep people safe on the roads.

“We have other speed sensors on major routes in the county that check if motorists are driving dangerously.

“If you look at a road like the A17 in Spalding where the speed limit is 60mph, once 85 per cent of motorists are exceeding the limit by 15 to 20mph, a camera along that stretch would be turned on until speeds return to an acceptable level.

“Normally, the word gets around quickly when cameras are working and as soon as they start flashing drivers slow down.

“Once we can see over a period that the dangerous driving has stopped, the cameras are switched off.

“We get more requests from residents to do something about people speeding than anything else and cameras are an effective way of addressing this.

“It’s not about providing a cash cow at all.

“We don’t have to paint the cameras yellow or put signs up warning people where they are.

“That is done to slow people down and stop them driving dangerously through a particularly hazardous area.

“Once the motorists have driven through this area it’s up to them if they speed up again.

“But if they do they are putting their lives and others at risk.”