Drivers face £2m speeding offensive

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    MERSEYSIDE motorists are facing their biggest-ever speeding blitz which will see 50,000 tickets a year issued from April.

    The £60-a-time fines will raise almost £2m, with much of the proceeds going to pay for even more speed cameras for the region’s roads.

    Plans to launch this all-out purge on speeding motorists were first mapped out two years ago, but were postponed indefinitely last summer.

    But now the plan is back, and Liverpool council’s executive board is expected to approve next Friday the formation of a Merseyside-wide road safety consortium to run and operate all speed cameras and traffic light cameras across the city, Sefton, Wirral, Knowsley and St Helens.

    If the local authorities agree, the Department for Transport will be asked to give the go-ahead for an April 1 start.

    Officials behind the plan insist it is a road safety initiative rather than a money-making operation.

    The existing speed and traffic light cameras across Merseyside generate 20,000 tickets a year, but, if the go-ahead is given to the formation of the Merseyside Road Safety Camera Partnership, this number will go up to 50,000 by using extra staff and enforcement measures.

    The aim in the first year will not be to add any new camera sites, but concentrate on making sure the existing sites are properly used.

    However, when the penalties start rolling in, the cash raised will eventually be used to add new camera sites.

    The formation of the partnership was first proposed two years ago so that income from the cameras, now sent through the courts to the Treasury, could be used to make roads safer.

    That scheme would have seen 36 extra speed camera sites going live at accident blackspots around the region.

    It was abandoned last summer because most of the cameras did not meet government criteria for sites that could be handed over to safety partnerships.

    Speed cameras could only be installed if four people had been killed or seriously injured, or eight personal injury collisions had taken place per kilometre of road. At the time, only 6% of the existing camera sites met those criteria.

    Local officials feared that, unless all cameras were included, the partnership could end up in the red.

    Now the criteria have been changed so that existing sites can be included, paving the way for all cameras across Merseyside to be incorporated in a revised scheme.

    Liverpool executive member for regeneration Cllr Peter Millea said last night: “This is not a money-making venture, but something that is directly intended to reduce road casualties by reducing speed and changing driver attitudes and behaviour. The challenge for motorists is not to speed, and if we do not need to issue one ticket I will be happy.

    “The scheme collapsed last time because of the criteria which meant that Liverpool would have been penalised, rather than rewarded, for its successful road safety initiatives. Now the criteria has changed.”

    Merseyside Road Camera Safety Partnership (MRCSP) will be made up of representatives from Merseyside Police, magistrates’ courts and the five local councils.

    Merseyside currently has 79 roadside cameras – 43 fixed yellow speed cameras and 36 traffic light cameras. Sefton has most, with 27 – 18 speed and nine red light; Liverpool has 24 – 14 speed and 10 red light; Wirral has 23 – 11 speed and 12 red light and Knowsley has three red light cameras and no speed cameras. St Helens has two red light cameras.

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