Speed-van firm racks up profits of €50,000 per week
THE company that operates the army of speed-camera vans across the country made profits of almost €50,000 a week last year after detecting a speeding motorist every hour.
The so-called Go Safe consortium secured the €80m Garda Siochana contract to operate the speed-camera vans in 2009 and the latest accounts show that the firm recorded operating profits of €3.12m in the 15 months to the end of March 31, or an average of €48,001 per week.
While Go Safe is now making big money, it has still to repay significant start-up costs. It can also point to a fall in road deaths. The number of road deaths dropped to record lows with 186 deaths in 2011 and 162 deaths in 2012.
The consortium is led by Kerry-born businessman Xavier McAuliffe who made his first fortune in the Spectra group, which developed camera films, before he branched out into hotels in Kilkenny.
On average, the Go Safe vans detect one speeding motorist an hour, working out at 72,000 detections every year.
The consortium is contracted to provide 6,000 hours per month.
The Go Safe cameras operate on sections of road that have a history of collisions and where speed was a contributory factor in those incidents.
The areas where they operate are available on the garda website.
The operating profit followed an operating loss of €2.5m in 2011 thanks to high start-up costs. The firm's accumulated loss last year stood at €836,769.
A spokesman for the firm said yesterday: "We are cautiously optimistic. While some costs have increased, the financial performance of the company is generally in line with expectation."
Go Safe has a five-year contract. "As there is still over two years to run on the contract, we continue to meet our financial targets and expect to eliminate retained losses within the next 12 months," the spokesman added.
The company has debts of €10.6m linked to the start-up, which must also be paid.
The firm's staff costs during the period increased to €3.65m, which meets salaries for 93 employees. Management services totalled €5.3m.
The accounts disclose that €586,281 was charged relating to the secondment of directors Ivor Browne McAuliffe and Donal Lucey from McAuliffe Investments, a firm controlled by Xavier McAuliffe.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter recently praised the cameras in the Dail, telling TDs that they led to better driving.
"The results of speed surveys carried out in the two years from January 2011 to January 2013 show there has been a sustained improvement in driver behaviour and increased compliance with the limits in most speed enforcement zones, which is very welcome."
The cameras also free up gardai to do other work, Mr Shatter added.
"I am, of course, determined that the resources of An Garda Siochana are used in the most efficient and effective way possible," he added.