Category Archives: Speed Cameras

Think-Tank urges government to “de-nationalise the roads”

DfT plan to raise direct revenue from roads is bad enough but libertarian think-tank urges Gov’t to motorise roads even further. A ‘free market roads’ report has been published by the Institute of Economic Affairs and is co-written by Dr Richard Wellings, the IEA’s Head of Transport).

He said, “Denationalising the network would ensure British motorists had better roads to drive on.” He has also said cyclists are “low-value”, don’t pay for roads and “delay traffic” and calls them “road tax dodgers”.

He claims that cyclists should only be allowed on bike paths only as, “roads are for motor vehicles. Maybe cyclists should pay to use cycle lanes – can’t see why taxpayers should be forced to subsidise them.” He seems to forget that roads are paid for by everybody out off all general taxation.

“A free market [in roads] would mean ending the state control and ownership of roads.

“Decisions regarding the deployment of speed cameras would be the responsibility of private road owners. These individuals would have to consider customer preferences for both speed and safety. Thus private road owners would probably focus on the wants of motorists rather than the demands of the road safety lobby. There [would be] no necessary role for government in the provision of speed limits or to ensure that motorists are registered, insured and trained.”

In the current report Dr Wellings said road privatisation would be opposed by many but that, “voter-taxpayers will appreciate lower taxes, whereas voter-drivers will appreciate shorter commuting or journey times and lower-cost fuel. It’s likely that rights of way for pedestrians, bicycles and horses would be preserved without charge, even though they would impose costs on road owners and motorists.”

The de-nationalisation of roads would be a reversal of 110 years of national stewardship.

In 1903, the Roads Improvements Association – an organisation created in 1886 by CTC and the forerunner to British Cycling – successfully lobbied the Government of the day to, in effect, nationalise the roads of Great Britain. Prior to this, roads were the responsibility of hundreds of local authorities, with an appalling disparity in quality of road upkeep from parish to parish, region to region.

The creation of a central highway authority was brought about thanks to the dogged insistence of a cycling official, Williams Rees Jeffreys. In 1900 he was elected a member of the Council of the Cyclists’ Touring Club and by 1901 was CTC’s representative on the Council of the Roads Improvement Association. He wanted the RIA to push for a “a Central Highway Authority and a State grant for highway purposes.”

In the 1940s, British Prime Minister Lloyd George said William Rees Jeffreys was “the greatest authority on roads in the United Kingdom and one of the greatest in the whole world.” Rees Jeffreys became the first secretary of the Roads Board, founded in 1910. This was the first central authority for roads in Great Britain since the Romans. The Roads Board later became part of the newly-formed Ministry of Transport, which has now become the Department for Transport.

Recommended reading:

Will too much localism lead to a return to “foundrous highways”? – http://www.roadswerenotbuiltforcars.com/will-too-much-localism-lead-to-a-return-to-foundrous-highways/

Nationalise the m6 Toll Road, says West Midlands Transport Chief – http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/local-news/nationalise-the-m6-toll-road-says-218397

Response from Staffordshire Police

I received a speeding fine back in October 2006. I was doing 47 in a 40 zone, but had been confused by the signage. I payed the fine, but complained. I obviously hit a raw nerve somewhere, because I received a 3 page reply from…

STAFFORDSHIRE POLICE

Direct Dial No: 01785235034 CENTRAL TICKET OFFICE
Telex 36107 PO BOX 2117
Fax: 01785232693 STAFFORD
Email: Michael. [email protected] ST169ZR.
Our Ref: C13465538

The person dealing with this correspondence is P.c. 4817 Kim ber 14th January 2008

Dear Mr. Nicholls

I have been asked to respond to your letter dated 16th December 2007 addressed to the Deputy Corporate Director, Staffordshire Highways.

It is not our normal practice to correspond any further with a motorist who has admitted and complied with tl1e fixed penalty process but on this occasion, I felt that the issues you raised needed a response.

I shall cover the points you have raised in the order you have given.

The Highway Code and the Road Traffic Act 1988 have been designed and enacted to give guidance and direction to all motorists using public roads in the UK. There is no “Spirit” of law. A motorist makes a decision as to whether they are going to comply with the law or not. If they decide the latter, then they should expect, if caught, to receive the appropriate punishment.

There is no “Trend” by this or any other council in the UK to cheat the driving public. If anything, all are trying to assist the motorist as much as possible in complying with the rules and regulations. There are plenty of signs, advertisements on local media stations and council websites to advise and warn motorist where speed cameras and now our mobile speed detection vehicles will be sited on a daily basis. Our static cameras are painted yellow and our vans have so much reflective material on them, they cannot be missed. The only people cheating the public are themselves. If everyone complied with all the rules and regulation.s, our dep;?,lrtment vvou!d not exist.

The signage on the A34 at Tittensor is all clearly and correctly marked and displayed. All repeater signs within the 60mph speed limit sections on the A34 between Stafford and Stoke on Trent are of the same size as the one you have mentioned. The only difference between all the others and the one you have highlighted is that all the other signs have the 60mph and speed camera signs mounted on grey backgrounds. The reason why the one you have highlighted is on a yellow background is to warn motorist of a change of speed limit ahead. From the position you have taken this photograph, the 40mph speed limit signs which also incorporate the speed camera sign are clearly visible. They are also on yellow backgrounds to warn motorists. There is a smaller 40mph repeater sign after the two 40mph change of speed limit signs which is some 50yds prior to the camera. If a motorist were to miss the change of speed limit signs (one on either side of the carriageway) then there is enough time for the driver to brake safely prior to the camera even if they were still traveling at 60mph.

I am confused about your description of the Cheddleton site on the A520. I have revisited the location to confirm the situation. I believe you may have been describing the location of one of our cameras again on the A520 but just prior to Cellarhead.

The camera at the Cellarhead site is positioned some 20yds past the 30mph change of speed limit signs. This is justified for two reasons. Near enough immediately opposite the camera is a petrol station which can be busy at times and has large goods vehicle using it. The second reason is some 300yds further along the road is a bUSy crossroads junction of the A520 and A52. Although this junction is controlled by traffic lights, when some traffic wants to turn right onto the A52 from the A520, it causes a backlog of traffic. The siting of the camera is to reduce the speed of traffic prior to this junction and thus reduce the number of collisions where vehicles drive into the back of each other haVing not expected the traffic tailbacks.

The Cheddleton site has a sweeping left hand bend prior to the 30mph change of speed limit signs and these can be seen some 100yds before their position giVing drivers plenty of time to see them and reduce their speed safely. The two 30mph signs are clearly and correctly marked and displayed. The right hand one is sited on a central refuse which also helps to give the appearance that the road narrows and encourage drivers to slow down naturally. About 150yds past the 30mph sign is a roundabout at the junction with Basfordbridge Lane. The speed camera is then positioned some 50yds north of this roundabout on the A520.

All road signs in the county of Staffordshire are placed in accordance with regulations covering their size, colour and positioning. This also includes its siting to give the earliest warning to approaching motorists. The use of “Countdown” markers for changes in speed limits are used within Staffordshire and are only usually put in places where reinforcement and extra warnings are need for a specific problem sites.

Since 2001 Staffordshire has complied with guidelines set by the Department for Transport covering the siting of Safety Cameras and there is a strict criteria we have to adhere to before a new camera can be sited. We also use other means of encouraging drivers to comply with speed limits including flashing speed and warning signs.

It is the “resolve” of the Staffordshire Casualty Reduction Unit (formerly known as the Safety Camera Partnership) to help create safer roads in this county. The important word in that sentence is “help”. We cannot do this on our own. We need the help of the general public and especially drivers to reduce the number of casualties and deaths on our roads. They can do this by complying with the Highway Code, Road Traffic Act and set speed limits.

I hope that I have gone some way to answering the points you have raised in your letter. If you require any further advice or information, visit our web site. There are links on there that should be answer any further questions you have. The address is:

www.staffordshire.gov.uk/cameralifesavers.

Respectfully yours

Michael Kimber Pc 4817 Enquiry Officer Staffordshire Casualty Reduction Unit