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Police warn speed camera protestors

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ORGANISERS PLANNING an anti-speed camera protest on the M4 this weekend could be held responsible for any accidents it causes, Wiltshire police have warned.

Anti-speed camera groups are planning a 'drive slowly' protest following the introduction of the first speed cameras on a fully open UK motorway.

'We have no problem with people protesting but we have no way of making it safe. The M4 is dangerous and the risk is down to the organisers, ' said Wiltshire police's Swindon traffic manager Inspector Wayne Smith.

Wiltshire & Swindon Safety Camera Partnership (WSSCP) introduced the mobile cameras on a stretch of the M4 on 13 April.

The protest is expected to clog the motorway for at least three hours.

Anywhere between 500 and 5,000 vehicles are expected to join in when the protest starts at 10am on Saturday.

They will drive at 56mph in both directions along the inner two lanes of the motorway between Membury and Leigh Delaware services.

'It is bank holiday weekend and we expect this will disrupt the motorway, ' said Smith.

M4 Protest organisers claim that speed cameras make roads less safe as they distract drivers' attention and are being used simply to raise money.

The go slow protest is intended to highlight motorists' dissatisfaction with speed camera policy in general and the M4 cameras in particular.

'This has really hit the public imagination, ' said protest spokesman and independent road safety analyst Paul Smith.

'We've been going less than a week and we have 500 people promising to turn up already, plus around 30 car clubs and groups encouraging their embers to come along.' A WSSCP pokeswoman aid the introduction of mobile cameras was to encourage excessive speeders to slow down on a 53km stretch of the M4 where people were regularly killed or injured.

Twelve percent of all Wiltshire road fatalities occur on the M4 stretch where cameras have been introduced. Twenty nine people were killed there in 2004.

'The route is clearly signed to tell people cameras are around and to pay attention to their speed, ' said the spokeswoman.

Evidence from the first two weeks of camera operation was that people were slowing down and leaving more space between vehicles, said WSSCP.

Jackie Whitelaw INFOPLUS www.M4protest. org

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