Bid to save Norfolk speed cameras

A deal to secure the future of Norfolk's speed cameras - which would see fewer motorists having points added to their licence - is expected to be struck within weeks.

The county's 23 speed cameras were set to be turned off after councillors voted to withdraw its �1.6m annual funding for the Norfolk Safety Camera Partnership.

But Norfolk police hope to intervene as chiefs believe axing the cameras would lead to an increase in road accidents and deaths.

The force has been in talks with County Hall to find a solution and an announcement is expected early in the New Year. It is hoped the cameras would become self-funding but the force is reluctant to rely fines to do this.

Chris Harding, chief executive of Norfolk Police Authority, said: 'We are looking very closely at offering more speed awareness courses as an alternative for a fine and points.

'We believe this is more publicly acceptable but crucially more effective in changing driver behaviour.

'The reality is that speed cameras will never be entirely self-funding and there will always be a need for a subsidy. We are working with Norfolk County Council to come to an agreement on funding.'

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Norfolk is likely to back a plan which would increase the number of one-day education programmes, which would raise revenue to help keep the cameras switched on. So far 20 police forces across the country have backed a plan.

Currently motorists caught speeding and issued with three penalty points are fined �60. Instead they would be invited to take a course at a cost of up to �100. Fees for the courses have already gone up to �82 in Suffolk and �87 in Cambridgeshire

Under the new proposals, first time offenders will be given points only if they break the limit by 10 per cent plus 9mph.

Motorists caught doing up to 42mph in a 30 zone will be offered the chance to go on the course under the proposals. Those doing up to 50mph in a 40 zone and 61mph in a 50 zone will also get the opportunity to escape points.

Police forces will keep one third of �100 course fees which will be used to keep the cameras running.

Edmund King, president of the AA, said he thought motorists would back the proposals. He added: 'I think the motorist will understand it and support it, because they still have the choice of points and a �60 fine.'

Members of Norfolk County Council cabinet have already agreed to explore a proposal put forward by Norfolk police which would see the current safety camera partnership agreement changed with the police covering most of the running costs for a 'core service'.

But as part of the proposed deal County Hall would be expected to make a �50,000 contribution to cover the costs of maintaining the yellow camera casings and also any road markings needed.

The changes follow a government decision to slash road safety funding by 40pc. Earlier proposals to scrap the partnership altogether sparked fears the number of road deaths and accidents would increase.