Road safety budget cuts ‘could prove more costly’

An appeal at the scene of a crash on Preston New Road, Clifton.
An appeal at the scene of a crash on Preston New Road, Clifton.
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Road safety on the Fylde coast needs to be protected from the latest cuts to council budgets, a team of experts has warned.

A report published ahead of the outcome of the Government’s spending review, to be announced tomorrow, warns failure to prevent road accidents will cost more in the long run.

Kevin Clinton

Kevin Clinton

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), which contributed to the report, said crashes place a “huge burden” on local services, including police and hospitals.

Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at the charity, said: “Local authorities have statutory duties to provide road safety.

“They are already struggling with the very real challenges of assessing the most effective way to allocate smaller budgets across the full range of local government activity.”

Blackpool Council, which needs to cut another £20m next year, is proposing a review of its highways and road safety services with a view to saving £200,000 through ‘operational efficiencies’.

Local authorities have statutory duties to provide road safety

Accidents on the resort’s roads were at their lowest level for years in 2014, when 51 people were seriously injured but there were no fatalities.

Across the rest of Lancashire, the number of people killed or seriously injured on the roads last year was at its highest level for five years.

But Lancashire County Council, which looks after the roads in Fylde and Wyre, said it will continue to prioritise road safety despite proposals to cut £2.8m from the highways budget.

A report to councillors outlining the measures, due to be discussed at a cabinet meeting today, said the plans would affect the frequency of certain services would be reduced ‘without compromising safety or the quality and response times of the services provided’.

Fred Jackson

Fred Jackson

Graham Feest, chairman of the National Road Safety Committee, said: “(The report is) intended to demonstrate the value of providing effective road safety services, and to encourage local authorities to protect road safety spending as much as possible in the current economic climate.”

The cost of road accidents across Lancashire topped £360m last year and there are fears cuts to police budgets could see road policing in the county hit hard, putting safety at risk.

Coun Fred Jackson, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member responsible for road safety, said he is ‘very pleased’ that casualties have fallen by 20 per cent in the last five years.

He added: “The amount of collisions on the Promenade has also reduced since the introduction of a 20mph area outside the Tower.”

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