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Conservatives will kill roadside cash cows

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A Conservative government would end support for local congestion charging schemes and stop funding new fixed speed cameras

Theresa Villiers, the party's transport shadow minister, said that councils would be given more ability to introduce innovative schemes: "When local authorities want to innovate and try out new ways to make traffic flow more smoothly they'll get encouragement from Whitehall not the stonewalling and inflexibility for which Labour's Department for Transport is notorious."

But the party would end central government support for congestion charges, with Villiers saying that Labour used "bullying tactics" in trying to encourage such scheme. "It was Labour's flagship policy for the roads but when the people of this great city had their say 78% voted no," she told the party conference in Manchester, referring to its vote last year against a congestion charging scheme.

She said that road schemes would be subject to the transparency the party is proposing in other areas, such as public finances. This would mean new traffic lights would need to be justified through the publication of data justifying their location and their phasing.

Villiers also attacked fixed speed cameras. "Under Labour they've almost trebled. The truth is the fines they generate are blinding Labour to the proven merits of other better ways to keep our roads safe: like education, like vehicle activated signs, like traffic police."

In a move that would affect the introduction of computerised average speed automatic numberplate recognition cameras, she said a Conservative government would not provide central funding for new fixed speed cameras, and would publish data on the effectiveness of the existing ones. "If local authorities want new cameras they'll have to prove nothing else works better and they'll have to find the money themselves," she said.

Villiers added the Tories would abolish the partnerships that currently run speed cameras, and make their use more transparent. "That means publishing the information that's now kept secret on each speed camera's record on safety and on fines, so local communities can judge for themselves whether a camera should stay or whether it should go," Villiers said.

"I believe that fixed speed cameras have reached their high watermark in this country. It's time to put a stop to Labour's cash cow camera culture," she added.

This article was originally published at Kable.

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