Police are calling for information regarding criminal damage to a pair of average speed cameras on a stretch of the A39 notorious for accidents.

The cameras were discovered by dismayed local residents on the morning of Thursday, October 5 at Perranarworthal, close to the Norway Inn. It is thought they were deliberately felled using an angle-grinder; no arrests have been made, but police enquiries continue.

A key route between Truro and Falmouth on to Helston, the A39 gets extremely busy here, and there have been many fatalities. Following a concerted campaign by local residents, the average speed cameras were installed earlier this year at a cost of around £150,000.

Volunteers had worked with Cornwall Council over several years to carry out regular speed checks, gathering evidence of drivers exceeding the speed limit despite various traffic calming measures such as pedestrian islands and gateway features making it clear that drivers are entering a residential zone with a 30mph limit.

The cameras used Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology to calculate the average speed of vehicles over a known distance. 

Peter Williams, Cornwall councillor for Mylor, Perranarworthal and Ponsanooth, said: “The poles are aluminium, and someone has gone out with an angle-grinder and cut them off. The council has retrieved the cameras and they are fine. They are going to order new poles and put them back up – I have no date as yet, but rest assured I’ll be pushing them.”

He added: “I spent six of my 10 years as a councillor doing an enormous amount of work on the A39 to make it as safe as possible, from resurfacing to centre lines to access roads. There is constant non-stop traffic here all day and all night, and the cameras cured the problem overnight.

“I cannot understand the mentality of someone who would do this. The cameras are there for everyone’s protection – pedestrians, villagers, drivers. They are not just a cash cow. There will be a cost to fix them, and that is only going to come from one place: the taxpayer.”

Adrian Leisk, head of road safety at Devon & Cornwall Police, posted on X(formerly Twitter): “I’m saddened for the local community who championed their installation and campaigned for years to do so.

"These cameras have improved road safety and will be replaced ASAP. Investigations are underway to identify the mindless vandals who did this. They have achieved nothing.”

Comments on social media were divided between those dismayed by the vandalism and others who were amused.

“People are fed up with the ‘target the motorist ‘campaign - 30mph is aridiculous speed for that piece of road,” said Peter Smith on the Ponsanooth Post Facebook page.

But Sandra Sandercock argued: “I feel really annoyed at all the laughingemojis. I'm sure people would feel very different if they lost someone through speed, which has happened on a few occasions there. I was pleased to see the traffic calming measures. I hope whoever has done it gets caught.”  

The cameras were installed as part of the Vision Zero South West road safety partnership to eliminate deaths by 2040. Partners include Devon and Cornwall Police, Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service, Cornwall Air Ambulance, Cornwall Council and the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust.

At the time, Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and chair of the Vision Zero South West road safety partnership, said: “It’s fair to say that you won’t find many residents as passionate about road safety as those of Perranarworthal.

“As a community living alongside a main road, they regularly witnessed the issues caused by excessive and inappropriate speed, and decided to do something about it.”

A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesperson confirmed that enquiries are ongoing to find those responsible for the criminal damage, and no arrests have been made as yet. 

Anyone who has information on the incident is advised to contact police via 101 or via the force website quoting 50230271540. Alternatively, independent charity Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously online at Crimestoppers-uk.orgor by calling freephone 0800 555 111.