West Midlands police to switch off all speed cameras

West Midlands police to switch off all speed camerasPA


West Midlands Police Force are planning to turn off their remaining 73 working speed cameras in April 2013, and will replace them with camera vans.

The Daily Express reports that the cash-strapped police force has to make £126million of budget cuts next year. Although they have 305 speed cameras and covert traffic light CCTV systems across the region, less than a quarter of these are currently working.

Although cameras hidden at traffic lights recently helped police to catch 400 drivers taking part in illegal races, the West Midlands Planning and Transportation Sub Committee agreed on Friday that they should be switched off.

A review will now decide whether to spend £489,000 upgrading to digital cameras at 71 accident blackspots.

In the last year, 37,000 speeding drivers have been caught by nine cameras in vans at the side of roads in Staffordshire and the West Midlands. Fixed cameras in the areas caught 65,133 drivers.

Click on the image below for 10 of the UK's best Christmas drives...

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Ten of the best Christmas drives in the UK
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West Midlands police to switch off all speed cameras

Sometimes in Central London you feel that you'll be charged good money just for breathing. Well, you can take a sigh of relief that from Saturday 24 December until Monday 2 January 2012, the Congestion Charge is being suspended. Take full advantage of free driving and quiet streets by doing your own little tour of the highlights, starting from Buckingham Palace, purring along the Mall, round Trafalgar Square, driving back down Whitehall, doubling back again at Big Ben to then cruising along Victoria Embankment, into Upper and Lower Thames Street, Byward Street and then on to the sights of Tower Hill. Finish off with a victory drive across Tower Bridge, high above the river.

The so-called Capital of the Cotswolds is holding its Christmas Market this year from 30 November to 16 December. From whichever direction you're travelling (the A429 via Stow-on-the-Wold, the A433 via Tetbury or the A417 from Gloucester), you'll enjoy classic rolling English countryside punctuated by picture-postcard villages en route, and the promise of a hot drink, roasted chestnuts and retail opportunities aplenty on arrival. This year, for those who are steady of their feet, there’s the added attraction of an outdoor skating rink.

Britain's tradition of Boxing Day Races is as popular as ever, with notable meetings at Kempton Park, Ffos Las, Sedgefield, Towcester and Wolverhampton. However, our hottest tip is to take a warm hat and hip flask and head for Chepstow the day after (27th), when the Coral Welsh National is being run. The racecourse is well located – a convenient drive away from Cardiff and Newport (via the M4), Gloucester and Cheltenham (along the M5) and Bristol (just across the Severn Bridge on the M48).

A trip to St Andrews at Christmas is a magical experience. From Edinburgh take the M90 and then the A91 (or the A92 followed by the A915), while if driving from the north, you might go via Dundee and the bridge over the Firth of Tay. Of course, if you're a golfing fan, the destination’s appeal is obvious, with no less than seven different courses, but otherwise, there's the beautiful university town for shopping, West Sands Beach for a bracing walk, and The Old Course Hotel where you can retreat for a warming glass of single malt.

It's always a pleasure to bowl along the A6 amid beautiful countryside on the way to Bakewell – but especially so in anticipation of this Peak District town’s annual Christmas Weekend. This year, on 24th and 25th November, there's a Christmas market lining the streets, a traditional organ grinder providing the music, and a traditional carousel and Santa’s grotto for children. As it begins to get dark, the Christmas tree lights will be switched on, there’s a lantern parade, and it’s all capped off with a firework display at the Showground.

Let off steam after Christmas by taking your car for a few laps of the Donington Park racing circuit on 28th December. It’s easy to get to, being located next to East Midlands Airport at Junction 23A of the M1. Once on the circuit, you can forget speed cameras, fuel consumption and other everyday cares, and do battle with the rollercoaster curves, hairpins and high-speed straights. There are groups for novices, intermediates and advanced drivers, and instructors are on hand to give advice. If you don't want to use your own car, you can hire one of the Caterham 7's on offer.

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A trip to St Andrews at Christmas is a magical experience. From Edinburgh take the M90 and then the A91 (or the A92 followed by the A915), while if driving from the north, you might go via Dundee and the bridge over the Firth of Tay. Of course, if you're a golfing fan, the destination’s appeal is obvious, with no less than seven different courses, but otherwise, there's the beautiful university town for shopping, West Sands Beach for a bracing walk, and The Old Course Hotel where you can retreat for a warming glass of single malt.

Blow the cobwebs away after Christmas with an ascent up the Malvern Hills along Jubilee Drive. You can enjoy wonderful views without even leaving your car, but if you're prepared to park up and follow one of the footpaths to the top of these ancient hills, you can enjoy views over Hereford towards Wales and the Black Mountains on one side, and over the flats of Worcestershire on the other. On your descent, repair to one of the nearby pubs (the Malvern Hills Hotel or The Chase) for a well deserved drink.

Turn off the A170 to the north and you'll soon come to the idyllic village of Hutton-Le-Hole in the lower reaches of the North York Moors National Park. It's the perfect destination for a Christmas jaunt, with its perfect little cottages, picturesque stream and old-fashioned pubs. Watch out for the local sheep though, because they roam the streets at will. And if you make your visit on the first weekend of December (1st and 2nd), the village’s Ryedale Folk Museum is hosting a Christmas festival, with activities, crafts, food and drink, market stalls and music.

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A trip to St Andrews at Christmas is a magical experience. From Edinburgh take the M90 and then the A91 (or the A92 followed by the A915), while if driving from the north, you might go via Dundee and the bridge over the Firth of Tay. Of course, if you're a golfing fan, the destination’s appeal is obvious, with no less than seven different courses, but otherwise, there's the beautiful university town for shopping, West Sands Beach for a bracing walk, and The Old Course Hotel where you can retreat for a warming glass of single malt.

Driving across Salisbury Plain takes you from the pagan celebration of the winter solstice at Stonehenge to the soaring expression of Christian faith that is Salisbury Cathedral. Access to Stonehenge is via the A344 (open daily except 24th and 25th December) but you can also enjoy views from the A303. For the drive down to Salisbury, take the A345, which takes you past Old Sarum on the way. This was the original site of the city of Salisbury, and the impressive ramparts of an Iron Age hill fort afford spectacular views to the “new” cathedral in today’s city.

Driving north from Cambridge on the A10 you're soon out in the flatlands of the Fens, a sparsely populated agricultural region renowned for its black soil. Before long, just as the road straightens, the Isle of Ely appears before you in the distance, topped off with its spectacular Norman cathedral. It's an easy 40 minutes' drive, and over the Christmas period you'll be rewarded with concerts, carol services (including a special "Shoppers' Carol Service" at 11.30am on 15th December), festive markets and fayres.

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