Welsh speed camera calamity

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    DRIVERS caught speeding on camera were last Thursday urged to challenge their convictions while nearly 1,000 motorists are to have their fines quashed.

    One of Wales’ leading transport experts said motorists who get fined after being caught speeding by safety cameras should check the conviction is correct.

    Around 950 motorists will have speeding convictions overturned after it emerged that part of a road signposted as 30mph was in fact subject to a 60mph speed limit.

    Mid and South Wales Safety Camera Partnership ordered a full review of a mobile camera site in Cowbridge in the Vale of Glamorgan after a complaint was received about speed limit signs.

    Now, hundreds of convictions are to be overturned amid concerns that some drivers should not have been prosecuted. One of Britain’s leading anti-speed-camera campaigners said all speed cameras should be scrapped.

    And Mid and South Wales Safety Camera Partnership wants councils to check all speed limits so the mistake does not happen again.

    The Association of British Drivers says it has put in a Freedom of Information Act request to find out what proportion of drivers have had their convictions overturned.

    Mid and South Wales Safety Camera Partnership has had to overturn convictions in the past, but this is one of its biggest cases.

    Professor Garel Rhys, an expert in transport at Cardiff University, said last week, “It is always wise for an individual to check the conviction he or she is facing is in fact a safe one.

    “There are many mistakes like this and most motorists simply take the penalty because they don’t want to go to court because there is the threat of a bigger fine and more points if they fail.

    “If you look at the number of people who contest these things, it is far from rare that the authorities drop their case.”

    The Partnership’s review found that while all of Cardiff Road in Cowbridge was signposted as a 30mph limit, part of the road – known locally as Primrose Hill – was subject to a 60mph limit.

    The Partnership said it was concerned some motorists may have been prosecuted for travelling above 30mph within a short section where they could have legally travelled at speeds of up to 60mph.

    To introduce a 30mph speed limit on a road without street lighting, local authorities must signpost it and pass a traffic regulation order.

    In 1990, the former South Glamorgan County Council extended the 30mph limit beyond the street lighting on Cardiff Road by signposting it but it has now been established that the necessary traffic regulation order was never passed. The site had not been enforced since May 2005 and the Camera Safety Partnership suspended it in July 2005 when a potential problem was identified.

    The Vale of Glamorgan County Council has now put the 30mph traffic regulation order in place and motorists are advised that the section signed as 30mph is now legally set at 30mph.

    The Partnership began operating a mobile camera at the site in April 2000 and up until May 2005, 949 motorists had accepted conditional offers of fixed penalties or been summoned to appear in court.

    Footage from safety cameras is only retained for 18 months and without being able to identify which motorists have been affected, the Partnership says it is only fair all convictions are reversed.

    Mark McArthur-Christie, policy director of the Association of British Drivers, said, “We have seen a lot of cases similar to this one this year.

    “Local authorities are rushing through lower speed limits in the belief they will save lives but we don’t really know the full effects of this and whether it really does make the roads safer.

    “What we do know is that the numbers who are successfully overturning their conviction has gone up hugely, which is sad because it means people are now starting to view the law with some degree of contempt.”

    Paul Smith, founder of the Safe Speed road safety campaign, said, “It is disappointing that road safety has turned into a war of technicalities. The authorities are enforcing technical regulations against motorists and motorists are enforcing technical regulations against them.

    “The speed camera issue has run completely out of control and I don’t think we are going to enforce proper road safety until we scrap the lot of them.”

    In May, more than 1,000 drivers had their speeding convictions overturned because temporary speed limit warning signs had been put in the wrong place.

    Drivers who had been caught on the A483 northbound road works near Wrexham had their fines repaid – costing the authorities nearly £68,000.

    Phil Davies, manager of the Partnership, said, “We are determined to resolve this situation as quickly and fairly as possible.

    “As we are unable to identify which section of Cardiff Road motorists were travelling on, we feel it is only right that we reverse all the convictions.

    “We stopped enforcing here as soon as we realised there may be a problem and I have asked all local authorities within Mid and South Wales to review their traffic regulation orders.”


    Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, But rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, VODKA in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming…….WOO HOO, WHAT A RIDE!!


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