North wailes

Over the years I have read your columns with interest and enthusiasm, but I always felt uncomfortable with your negative stance over speed cameras. Feeling that I am nearing the end of my life, I took great pleasure in taking our younger daughter to university recently. A few days after the happy and successful excursion, I found I had incurred penalty points and a fine for driving at 36 mph in a 30 mph zone. It will come as no surprise when I reveal that I was driving to Bangor University through the North Wales Police enforcement area. After forty-five years of driving correctly taxed, tested and insured vehicles, and being aware of and obeying indicated speed limits, I was surprised and disappointed. The journey was on a Sunday, in good weather when hundreds of students and their families were travelling on the A5, as well as hundreds more climbers and walkers making the most of the final good weekend of summer. There were two or three sets of temporary traffic lights at suspended minor road works after Llangollen, separated by miles of empty open road through the open countryside. There was no road working in progress. I assume that it was on one of these stretches of temporary 30 mph limits that I was observed. I did see a man in a dirty yellow fluorescent jacket loitering by the wall of an isolated cottage, and there was a white van parked near him. I was thinking of calling the police as I thought he was a travelling thief. Now I suspect he was a modern highwayman working for the police. It is the method of surveillance that I find unsettling and alienating. I think that their tactics are underhand, provocative, cynically profit-motivated and counter productive. Naturally I cannot argue with the North Wales Police or their civilian agents, who are infallible. If I was speeding, then I accept the punishment, but in this and hundreds of other similar cases untold harm has been done to the relationship between the motoring public and the North Wales Police and to the tourism industry in Wales. Yours more in sorrow than anger,

Asked on 12 December 2009 by

Answered by Honest John
Absolutely right. It is so pervasive it could happen to any of us at any time, however careful and observant we are. But especially in North Wales where some of the roads are extremely tempting. Happily, North Wales now has an enlightened new Chief Constable and some motorists have been refunded their fines for speeding in Bala where Gwynedd council "had not followed the proper procedures" for reducing the speed limit.
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