SPEED cameras in South Gloucestershire are to be switched back on, it has been decided.

A split vote on the controversial move means eight council-owned cameras will be transferred to police ownership and will be turned back on by Avon and Somerset Constabulary. No date has yet been given for the cameras to go live.

The controversial decision split political parties on South Gloucestershire Council’s planning, transportation and strategic environment committee last Wednesday (June 11) with four Liberal Democrat and three Labour councillors out voting the Conservatives’ six councillors to turn the cameras back on.

The council’s strategic road safety manager, Rob Joyce, said speed measurements at sites where the cameras remain in place including on the A432 Badminton Road at Nibley, Westerleigh Road in Yate and on the A38 near Alveston showed 85 per cent of drivers still slowed down despite the cameras not being in operation and there had been no increase in accidents at the sites.

Last month the authority announced road accident rates in South Gloucestershire had continued to fall since speed cameras were switched off in March 2011 and had reached their lowest level since the council was formed in 1996.

Figures show the total casualty figure for the district in 2013 was 645, down 1.2 per cent from the 2012 figure of 653. In 2012 South Gloucestershire also had the second lowest average casualty rates per billion vehicle miles travelled among the English local authorities.

The Tories said those figures were enough to warrant consulting the public before deciding whether speed cameras should be brought back into use.

Cllr Brian Allinson (Con, Stoke Gifford) said: “As a police officer for over 30 years and a councillor for 11 years, I’ve always wanted to see evidence before making a decision, including knowing what the public thinks.

“The evidence locally shows that - since the speed cameras were switched off in 2011 - South Gloucestershire accident rates have continued to fall and now stand at their lowest level ever.

“The council should therefore be open and honest about the questionable evidence behind speed cameras and give local people a chance to have their say on this important issue.”

The speed cameras will now be sold to Avon and Somerset Constabulary for a nominal fee believed to be £1 each and the police will operate the cameras.

The force has asked all authorities within its region to consider selling their cameras or reactivating and operating them themselves.

The move follows Chief Constable Nick Gargan’s wish to turn all cameras back on when he came to office last year. Mr Gargan is currently on paid leave after being suspended last month following allegations he acted inappropriately towards female staff.