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Cash bid for speed gun supported

PUBLISHED: 16:30 08 February 2014

Archant

Civic leaders have backed a police request for £1,250 to help tackle speeding motorists in the Sid Valley.

Officers currently have to apply in advance to use a speed gun shared with other towns, but a number of community groups want to take on a deterrent role.

There were warnings funding another agency would be crossing a line, although members argued it is a public service and backed the move.

Councillor Christine Drew told Monday’s meeting: “I’ve always thought that the police should pay for their own equipment – they get enough – but these are hard times and it’s a community project. A speed camera is definitely a deterrent.”

Groups in Sidford and Fortescue have already expressed an interest in forming community speed watch groups, which can happen once police determine there is more than a perceived issue.

Cllr Ian McKenzie-Edwards joined Cllr Jack Brokenshire, residents and police on one such speed watch, and said their presence was ‘unquestionably a deterrent’ for motorists driving too fast.

He added that funding the speed gun would send out a message about the quality of life in the Sid Valley.

Councillor Peter Sullivan said Sidmouth police currently have to ‘beg, steal and borrow’ to access the shared speed gun, and having their own would give them greater flexibility.

“It would be of a community benefit,” he said. “As a council we should be able to provide equipment to other agencies in our area to enhance the lives of people living here.”

Cllr Simon Pollentine reminded members that they had considered supporting other agencies before, and they should think carefully about spending taxpayers’ money.

The units are available from upwards of £6,000, but a reconditioned model can be purchased for £1,250.

But Cllr Ann Liverton suggested getting figures on how often speed checks happen and how often officers were unable to use the speed gun before they bought one and found it just ‘sat in the cupboard’.

Members voted to back the bid.

Cllr Kelvin Dent described the town’s number of police – Sergeant Squires, two neighbourhood beat managers, four PCSOs, 10 response officers and an overlap of coverage with Honiton and Exmouth – as ‘very reassuring’.

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