HAS the time come to get rid of speed cameras – or at least some of them?

That’s the question being asked after one council made the controversial decision to remove them from an entire town.

Swindon decided the £320,000 it contributes annually to its local camera partnership could be better spent on “far more effective” road safety measures.

Now local authorities across the country are examining their cameras, described by Swindon council as “a blatant tax on the motorist”.

But could the same ever happen in Dorset?

Local authorities and the Dorset Safety Camera Partnership are all adamant the use of cameras will continue within the county.

Johnny Stephens, head of fixed penalties at the Dorset partnership, said: “The three local authorities have committed to support the continuation of the partnership and have dedicated funds available through the Local Transport Plan,” he said.

“The continued support demonstrates the positive contribution safety cameras have had in reducing the number of people killed or seriously injured on Dorset’s roads as a consequence of excess and inappropriate speed.”

Cllr Mike White, Cabinet Portfolio holder for Transportation in Poole, added: “The council currently has no plans to withdraw funding allocated to Dorset Safety Camera Partnership.”

And Cllr Robert Lawton, cabinet member for Environment and Transport at Bournemouth, said: “We will remain one of the funding partners of the Dorset Safety Camera partnership and have no intention of withdrawing overall – we believe camera enforcement has a role to play in road safety.”

But Claire Armstrong of campaign group Safe Speed disagreed and claimed speed cameras are the cause of many accidents. “The minute a driver sees a speed camera they spend the next few hundreds metres looking at their speedometer, looking at the camera and not concentrating on anything else.

“We now also have a nation of people who drive exactly at the speed limit when it would be better to concentrate on teaching people to drive safely and at an appropriate speed.”

Since their introduction cameras in the county have raked in millions of pounds – there are currently at least 50,000 fines paid every year.

The 38 fixed sites, 32 mobile locations and 14 red light cameras have proved hugely unpopular with motorists and Dorset residents pay the sixth highest amount per head in the country in fines, equivalent to £4.28 per year for every man, woman and child.

Tens of thousands of drivers have paid to attend the Driver Awareness Scheme as an alternative to getting penalty points on their licences.

And a recent study revealed 16 per cent of motorists actively support the illegal destruction of cameras, seen on numerous occasions across Dorset.

The partnership consists of Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset councils, Dorset Police, the courts service, strategic health authority, Highways Agency and the Crown Prosecution Service. Bournemouth and Poole councils both pay more than £400,000 per year with Dorset council paying more than £1 million.

This year Bournemouth is keeping back £100,000 of the cash to pay for borough-based initiatives.