Catalan residents see red over traffic commissions

Catalan residents see red over traffic commissions
Residents have reported that the cameras are triggered when lights are still on amber. Photo:
Commissions of 30 percent of fines from radars and cameras at red lights in the Catalan town of Montgat have been revealed to be going to a private company, enraging local residents who claim that the cameras are unnecessary.

Montgat town hall signed the controversial contract with Bilbiomatica in August 2012, in return for the company footing the bill for the installation of traffic cameras on the busy main N-II coast road.

Under the terms of the deal, Bibliomatica receives 30 percent of any fines with the remaining 70 percent going to the town hall.

The four-year arrangement is said to be worth €996,000 to the company.

"It seemed like a good idea because in this way they would be paid for by those who broke the law," said council member Tomás Cabrejas according to national daily El Pais.

But now some residents are unhappy about the commissions, and about how the cameras are used.

Acari Bertran, of the 'No to Montgat Radars' platform claimed that motorists had been handed four licence points and fined €200 for 'jumping'  traffic lights that were  still on amber, not red and bemoaned the strictness of the 50km/h speed limit.

A petition with 1,500 signatures in July led to a proposal by local Socialist and Green parties to have the lights removed, but the motion was overruled by the majority CiU and Catalan Republican Left parties.  

Opponents of the radars have pointed out that there have been no fatalities on the road in the last three years, and only one serious injury.

They claim that the installation of the cameras was illegal, as no prior decree had been issued by Francesc Xavier Garcia, the town mayor.

But due to the nature of the contract, the local authority would have to compensate Bibliomatica removing the cameras "unjustifiably" before the end of the agreed period.

The mayor has insisted that the goal of the cameras was simply to "calm traffic".

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