DRIVERS who are caught by the average speed cameras on the A127 will be prosecuted from the outset, Essex County Council confirmed yesterday.

The new cameras, between the Southend borough boundary and Nevendon, were switched on yesterday.

County council bosses initially said there would be a period of grace for drivers who were caught.

But at a press conference, transport boss Norman Hume said this would not be the case.

Between the Dick Turpin and the Southend boundary, the speed limit will be 50mph. From the pub to the Nevendon turn-off, the limit will be 70mph, but still monitored by the average speed cameras.

Mr Hume, county councillor responsible for highways and transportation, said: “We’re not out to get anyone, but there will be no grace period and the official start date was midnight last night.”

It was also revealed not all the cameras had been switched on.

Mr Hume added: “Not all are operational, but they will be over the next few days. As far as the public are concerned, it would be wrong to suggest they will get away with speeding. Police are going to be active in the meantime.”

In the past three years, four people have died and more than 250 injured on the 6.8-mile stretch between Nevendon and Southend.

The council is hoping the new measures, which cost £1.2million, will mean fewer accidents. It says the scheme will also reduce journey times by easing congestion, helping motorists save fuel.

Geoff Collins, from Speed Check Services, the company which installed the cameras, said evidence showed they could reduce accidents by 85 per cent a year.

He said they were better than Gatso cameras, which measure a motorist’s speed at the moment they pass the camera, because they encourage drivers to travel at a constant speed.

Adam Pipe, a spokesman for Essex Police, welcomed the cameras, but warned police would still be active.

He said: “We’re not going to pull away from policing the A127, but now we can concentrate on other offences like driving while using mobile phones or drink-driving.”

Cameras make little difference say motorists

MOTORISTS claim the new average speed cameras have made little difference to A127 congestion along the A127.

A 50mph limit was introduced yesterday on a 3.8-mile stretch of the road between the Dick Turpin pub, near Wickford, and the Southend boundary.

The limit increases to 70mph from the Dick Turpin to the Nevendon turn-off.

Colin Roberts, 47, from Lower Road, Hullbridge, joined the A127 from the A130 on his usual route to Ford at Dunton.

He knew the speed limits were being introduced, but found unsuspecting motorists may have been caught as no signs had been put up on the sliproad.

Mr Roberts said: “In the rush hour you can’t hit 50 mph anyway. I did notice some drivers switching lanes to try to beat the system.

“The main difference will come at off-peak times when the road is empty. It will be very difficult to keep to the 50mph limit.”

The limits and cameras have been brought in by Essex County Council, but Mr Roberts criticised it for not making other efforts to change the road. He said: “It’s annoying the council doesn’t listen to the public as I’m sure 95 per cent of drivers disagree with the new 50mph limit.

“Instead, they should look at making the road safer if they genuinely want to reduce accidents.”

Taxi driver Ralph Morgan said the new limits would stop boy racers treating the A127 as a race track late at night.

He said: “I think it’s a good idea. When you talk about the rush hour I don’t think it will make any difference, but I think the number of accidents will be cut. There have been some nasty ones involving boy racers, and hopefully they will stop.

“When you are driving into Southend you almost always get caught in solid traffic by Progress Road anyway.”