Locals in Auckland's Franklin celebrate after controversial speed cameras vandalised   

Locals in the rural Auckland community of Franklin are celebrating after three separate speed cameras were vandalised and put out of action.      

In the past week, damage has been done to three speed cameras in the Counties Manukau South Area, including on the Glenbrook-Waiuku Rd and on Ostrich Rd near Patumahoe.     

The speed cameras have been particularly unpopular since speed limits on key roads in the Franklin area were lowered from 100km/h to 80km/h in 2020.    

This led to a 300 percent increase in tickets issued on Glenbrook Rd alone.    

Numerous posts were made on a local Facebook page celebrating the downing of the speed camera on Ostrich Rd.     

"Looks like it was pulled over, it's toast," said one commenter.  

"Go hard my hero," said another.     

"2 down. Will be hitting the news soon," another wrote.  

The NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi confirmed to Newshub the camera on Ostrich Rd had been damaged and so had two others in the Auckland area, including a camera on Glenbrook-Waiuku Rd in Franklin.  

A police spokesperson said it was aware of "several safety cameras being damaged in the Counties Manukau South Area".   

Though they are still in the early stages of their investigation, police said the damage is being treated as suspicious.  

The spokesperson could not say whether the incidents are linked.  

The Ostrich Road speed camera after it had been vandalised.
The Ostrich Road speed camera after it had been vandalised. Photo credit: Supplied.

A Waiuku local, who wished to remain anonymous, told Newshub he didn't know who had vandalised the Glenbrook Rd camera, "but I think you could round up every motorist who lives in the" region "and they would all stick their hand up and claim it was them".   

"I wouldn't be surprised if more cameras are cut down - people are so angry at the abuses of power that they are finally starting to fight back. And I can guarantee if anyone is seen cutting down a camera they are not going to be reported to the police," the local said.   

It comes after Franklin local board member Gary Holmes in February accused NZTA of being more focused on "revenue gathering" than reducing serious and fatal crashes in the area.     

Holmes was frustrated at the number of speed cameras on Glenbrook and Glenbrook-Waiuku Rds following the 2020 speed limit reduction.      

NZTA data obtained under the Official Information Act (OIA) by Holmes and provided to Newshub showed despite a 300 percent increase in speeding tickets on the road since the reduced speed limit, the number of deaths and serious injuries from crashes has remained "concerningly high".        

Between 2018 and 2023, there were two fatal crashes, 11 crashes that caused serious injuries and 45 collisions where minor injuries were sustained on Glenbrook and Glenbrook-Waiuku Rds.        

But it was also revealed only 10 percent - or 12 crashes - were attributed to speeding. The rest were down to other factors, with alcohol and/or drugs the leading contributor - causing 21 crashes.   

Poor observations (17), poor handling (15) and incorrect lanes or position (14) were the next common.        

In 2019, 2112 tickets were issued before surging to 9060 the following year, the data seen by Newshub showed. The number of tickets issued peaked in 2022 at 10,903 before slightly dropping in 2022 to 8574 and reducing again last year to 7439.        

The data also showed the amount of money police made from those speeding tickets. Between 2019 and 2023, police generated just more than $3.3 million on Glenbrook and Glenbrook-Waiuku Rds, with 2021 being the most lucrative year - making $963,680. This is a 343 percent increase from 2019 ($217,550).        

Locals have said none of the increased revenue has been spent on making Glenbrook Rd safer.   

Of the Glenbrook-Waiuku Rd camera, NZTA said it "is disappointing that people are putting themselves and others at risk by choosing to vandalise safety cameras. Two similar incidents have also occurred at safety camera sites in Auckland".     

NZTA said responding to this type of vandalism is a "waste of limited road maintenance funds that can be better deployed to keep our roads safe and well maintained".   

Waka Kotahi and police said damage to these safety cameras "can put everyone using the road at risk".  

NZTA is currently installing a further two point-to-point cameras on Glenbrook Rd East and Glenbrook Rd West, which measure average speeds.  

Holmes was worried the installation of the new cameras would only serve to bolster the Government’s coffers rather than reducing death and serious injury crashes.      

It was revealed by NZ Herald last month Waka Kotahi is planning to increase the number of speed cameras on Aotearoa's roads from the current 150 fixed and mobile cameras to about 800. Waka Kotahi also plans to triple the number of tickets issued each year to 3 million.       

In Canada, Alberta's government recently made changes to legislation to ensure drivers are protected from "fishing holes - areas where photo radar is focused on revenue generation rather than traffic safety. 

"All photo radar sites will be banned from ring roads in both Calgary and Edmonton, starting on December 1, 2023. Those ring road units can be repositioned to school, playground and construction zones where they can be used to improve safety and protect those in vulnerable situations."  

"I expect more cameras to be cut down and I'm not sure the authorities will be able to stop it," the Waiuku local told Newshub.  

Police said they "will liaise with the New Zealand Transport Agency about how best to protect safety cameras from this type of harm".