January 15, 2009 10:20 PM

The Labour Party's plan to put a speed camera on every street corner in Newcastle would cost £1.3 billion, according to figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats.

The proposal has been branded as "financial madness" by the ruling Liberal Democrats. If implemented this year would force a council tax rise of 67.8% on households in Newcastle .

Labour has demanded that every residential street in the city - a total of 3,300 - should have an average speed camera installed to limit vehicles to 20mph.

Labour Councillor Henri Murison has run a website campaign, written letters to local newspapers and tabled motions to city council making this demand.

To accede to his barmy plan would cost £1.3 billion. The cost is so high because the typical yellow Gatso cameras - which are installed on many of Newcastle 's main roads - cannot be calibrated for speeds of 20mph.

Special cameras, which operate in pairs and measure speed over a fixed point, would have to be used. These cost £196,000 a pair.

For Councillor Murison's campaign to be effective each residential street would require two pairs - a total cost of £392,000 per street.

With 3,300 streets, Councillor Murison's plan would cost Newcastle taxpayers nearly £1.3bn.

This does not include yearly running costs.

It has been estimated that an additional 75 to 100 council staff would be required to visit the 6,600 sets of cameras every three or four days to remove the data on motorists caught speeding.

"To fund this crackpot scheme the council would have to borrow the £1.3 billion over a period of 25 years," said Lib Dem Finance spokesman Peter Allen.

"To service this debt the council would be expected to pay around £65 million a year back each year, for 25 years.

"The council would be forced to raise council tax by 67.8% this year. For Band D council tax payer it would mean their council tax bill rising from £1,447 to £2,333 overnight.

"Councillor Murison's proposal - like many of his ideas - is ill-thought out financial madness and would saddle council tax payers with an horrendous bill for the next 25 years."

Instead the Lib Dem-run city council is pressing ahead with its long-term manifesto commitment of introducing a mandatory 20mph across Newcastle 's residential streets using mainly street signs.

The £1.4 million cost of the programme is funded from the some of the dividend the City Council received from Newcastle Airport, so will not cost council tax payers a penny.