The devices are being installed this week in Hanwood, Pontesbury and Minsterley thanks to a grant of £18,600 from the Police and Crime Commissioner, which was match funded by the three parish councils.
If successful, it is hoped the ground-breaking scheme could be rolled out more widely to help tackle the problem of speeding on the county’s rural roads.
The cameras will use automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology to record vehicle speeds and identify the offending drivers, and will also play a part in tackling rural crime.
The project was born in 2020 when West Mercia’s newly-appointed deputy chief constable Julian Moss visited the area to meet with local councillors, and they raised the issue of persistent speeding along the A488.
He had recently moved from Gloucestershire Constabulary, where he had worked with parish councillor Charles Pedrick to install the first parish council-owned ANPR cameras in the country.
“That was the start of our relationship with Charles and his knowledge in this area has been instrumental in helping us take this forward,” said Pontesbury Parish Council chairman Duncan Fletcher, who also chairs the Safer Speed Shropshire partnership which was formed to pursue the project.
“We have worked very closely on this with the Police and Crime Commissioner, local police officers, Shropshire Council and the three parish councils. It has been very much a team effort.”
The cameras will be placed on Shropshire Council lampposts and will capture images of vehicles travelling in both directions along the A488.
The Hanwood camera is located on the corner of Post Office Lane, the Pontesbury camera will be near the Nags Head and the Minsterley camera opposite the new development at Little Minsterley.
They will operate using wifi and can be moved to different locations within the villages without notice in the future.
Great Hanwood Parish Council chairman Roger Evans, who also represents Longden division on Shropshire Council, said: “I think all three of our parishes have raised problems with speeding with the police, but with the people power the police have it’s difficult to do much enforcement so we wanted to take the initiative.
“This is a first in the West Mercia area, and there are a number of other parishes watching this.”
Unlike traditional speed cameras, drivers caught speeding on the ANPR cameras will not get licence points or fines.
Shrewsbury Police Inspector Saf Ali said: “Road safety is a force priority and this is more around the education side.
“More persistent offenders will get a letter, which is something we do with the community speed watch.
“If they continue we can look at other options. They can get a warning for anti-social driving, and if they continue then we can actually seize the car.”
Insp Ali added that the new cameras would not mean the police stop carrying out mobile speed enforcement in the area.
The parish councils hope the initiative will be seen by motorists as “less heavy handed” than traditional speed cameras, acting primarily as a deterrent and making drivers more aware of their speed.
Shropshire councillor Nick Hignett, who represents Rea Valley and also sits on both Minsterley and Pontesbury parish councils, said: “This is a real success story of collaboration between the three parish councils.
“We have all worked together to get a scheme that will cover this whole section of road.
“There are a lot of parish councils watching this with great interest so see if it’s successful, and I think there will be multiple applications for similar projects.”
Insp Ali also said the cameras would also help combat rural crime such as county lines, burglaries, and thefts of quad bikes, animals and farm equipment, by “helping us build a picture of who is coming into the villages at certain times”.
Councillor Fletcher added: “It’s not just the speeding element, but being able to look at the movement of people that could cause some concern.
“We all know about the county drug lines. If you suddenly get a vehicle turning up on a regular basis from outside the area that could be critical.”
Councillor Richard Marshall, Shropshire Council’s deputy cabinet member for highways, said: “We know that speeding traffic is an issue of real concern to residents across the county.
“I’m delighted that these three parish councils have been successful in their bid for funding and that we’ve been able to support them in their plans to install these new cameras – which I hope will make a real difference to improving road safety.”
John Campion, West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “Road safety is a concern to communities across Shropshire. As PCC, I am resolute in tackling the issue of speeding and working with communities to make our roads safer.
“Through the introduction of the ANPR cameras in these three Shropshire villages, communities will see an improvement where they live.”