SAFETY chiefs could be told to spend less on speed cameras and more on education.

Councillors said they are ‘concerned that a large amount of money’ is spent on the controversial devices. Casualties have significantly fallen, they found.

They acknowledged cameras have a ‘definite and proven role’ in cutting casualties but called for a review so funding is ‘targeted to where it can make most impact’.

A ‘greater focus’ should be placed on initiatives such as giving residents speed testing equipment and ‘increased emphasis’ for education programmes, it found.

Buckinghamshire County Council members were discussing the authority’s funding of Thames Valley Safer Roads Partnership, which manages speed cameras.

Cllr Peter Cartwright, who led the probe, said: “Now is the opportunity to come to a new agreement so that changes can be made and funding targeted to where it can make the most difference.”

He said he thought TVSRP sometimes put up cameras to make cash, such as a controversial device on Marlow Hill in High Wycombe.

“To my mind that wasn’t a safety issue, it was just a cash cow,” he said.

The partnership got £822,000 from the council last year. It lost the right to keep fines in April 2007 and is now funded via Government grants to councils.

The Conservative Party pledged in its manifesto to stop funding for new fixed cameras and look to ‘more effective ways to make our roads safer’.

Swindon Borough Council famously stopped using its four fixed cameras but continued with mobile enforcement.

Yet the report says it is too early to assess the impact and the number of cameras was ‘very small’ compared to Bucks, which has 51 fixed and 58 mobile camera locations.

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Claire Armstrong, of anti-camera group Safe Speed, welcomed less cash for cameras. “In all areas where cameras are, we see people are having accidents,” she said.

She welcomed more education but said this must include issues such as driving to conditions and the need for drivers to concentrate as well as drive at safe speeds, she said.

Yet partnership spokesman Dan Campsall said: “The next year will undoubtedly be an important time for the Safer Roads Partnership as new funding will need to be approved by central government and local authorities will need to re-examine the priorities locally to reach a new agreement.

“Against this background the recommendations from Buckinghamshire are extremely helpful; it is vital that local authorities are raising these issues and feeding them into planning out the future direction for the partnership.”

Council cash has already fallen in recent years, he said, adding: “Safety cameras remain an important and effective measure for improving road safety but the partnership is constantly looking to balance enforcement with a clear focus on educating and informing the public.”

The council probe found the number of adults killed or seriously injured fell from 440 in 1998 to 242 next year and from 44 to 12 for children.

It gave particular praise to safety schemes such as better skid resistance, renewed markings and new markings and signs at Chalkpit Lane in Marlow, which cost £21,000.

There had been no recorded collisions since work was done in July 2008, it found, compared to about three collisions and casualties per year before.

The review was carried out by a sub-group of BCC's overview and scrutiny commissioning committee. Decisions would be taken by senior council members.

Most schemes cut casualties by a third, it said.

Click the link below for more speed camera stories and the full council report.