Clampdown on speeding motorists

Spy cameras could be brought in to clamp down on motorists in Southend who break the law, with fines helping to boost council coffers.

Local authorities across England are set to gain power to issue penalty charge notices for decriminalised driving offences such as straying into a restricted route, stopping in a yellow box junction or performing a prohibited turn.

However, Southend council was unable to confirm how many new CCTV cameras would be installed to police restrictions across the borough.

The laws are expected to be brought in as early as next month, but concerns have also been raised that the council will not have time to procure the sophisticated, and most likely costly, equipment and IT needed to enforce the laws.

The scheme has already been introduced in London and Cardiff which have netted a total of over £58m in fines in only one year.

With dwindling Government funding there are fears England’s 300 local authorities will use the new powers as cash cows.

Cllr Ron Woodley, deputy leader of the council and councillor responsible for transport, asset management and inward investment, said: “The Department for Transport are bringing in new legislation and amendments to the Traffic Management Act, that will allow councils outside of London and Cardiff to enforce “moving traffic offences” such as box junctions, driving in cycle lanes and banned turns.

“As the local highways authority, these changes to the national legislation and the potential impact and options for Southend will be considered by cabinet in January.”

New surveillance will be installed on roads which have restrictions for motorists.

Southend is already committed to introducing 20mph speed limits around the borough and is set to begin piloting the scheme in Leigh and Thorpe Bay.

Shoebury is set to follow and if successful, it is likely to be rolled out across the borough.

It is unclear as yet whether the council will enforce the zones with average speed cameras as it does on Marine Parade, Southend.

Staff would have to be trained to enforce the powers.

Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter