The first in a series of communications from the new Road Safety GB chair, Alan Kennedy.
When I was first approached about the idea of becoming vice chair, and eventually chair – more than two and a half years ago now – my immediate reaction was ‘no’.
I asked myself many questions including ‘Where will I find the time?, and ‘Am I capable?’. It took some time for me to come round to the idea, and I was amazed at how many people said I should do it – of course it’s very easy for other people to push you into a role. So I took the plunge – and I now know that I don’t have that much time on my hands, and I am yet to see if I am capable!
However, I’m very keen and very pleased to be given the opportunity to chair the association for the next two years – but having had the experience of being vice chair, I really believe that two years is not long enough. I will, of course, give the job my full commitment in the limited time that I have in the chair, and with the support of the officers and all you road safety professionals out there in the local authorities I am sure we can continue to make improvements to the way we work and have further impact in terms of casualty reduction.
There have already been many improvements and developments to the association’s policies and processes. For example, during the last two years we have seen the development of Timebank and have worked very closely with the Timebank Board to make the transition from Board ownership to our ownership.
We have seen a whole new focus on PR activities and communication, and new and improved business plan that spells out who we are, what we do, and more importantly, what we intend to do.
We have also just completed the re-branding of the organisation to take us beyond 2010. We also have, as part of the transition to the new organisation, a great new look website that is full of functionality and aimed at a much wider audience.
We now have a seat on the DfT Road Safety Delivery Board (RSDB) which gives us a very strong voice and an influence at the top. But the RSDB is not just a place for us to sit; it means that that Road Safety GB will be strategically involved in the future of road safety in the UK, and we will have to work hard to earn and retain that place.
Our first annual conference, held last year in Durham, was by all accounts a huge success. It was hopefully the first of many successful conferences giving the organisation an annual focus and the regions an impetus and, I hope, an increased feeling of being part of Road Safety GB.
All of these achievements have been realised through a team effort and it has been a great experience and pleasure to work on these developments as part of the ‘team’ over the last two years.
During the next two years, you will hear me refer to the ‘team’ frequently. Part of my vision for the future of Road Safety GB is to see us all working together as a national team with strength in numbers and a greater sharing of our expertise, knowledge and extensive experience.
Our advisers and representatives and others who work hard in the background to promote and build the association are largely unrecognised, but they are key team members and are an integral part of the association.
The officers’ group and policy and management team cannot work alone without the support of the advisers, and especially without you the members. I intend to make the association a much more inclusive team than it has been in the past.
In recent years it has been disappointing to hear some road safety officers, mainly the younger and newer folk, saying that they do not know what LARSOA is. ‘Who is LARSOA?’, ‘Am I a member of LARSOA?’, ‘How do I become a member?’, and ‘LARSOA does nothing for me’ are a few of the typical questions and comments we hear. A number of newer members do not know who the officers are, or indeed who the chairman is. This needs to change under Road Safety GB.
So communication within road safety teams is important, and between local authorities within the regions is very important. Communication between the chair and the full membership is vitally important to pull the ends of the association closer together and I intend to use our excellent communications systems within our website and cascade system fully to achieve this. I will be sending out communications regularly to all members with notifications, updates and consultations, and there will be a chairman’s inbox on the website. I would hope that all incoming messages are positive!
There are many challenges ahead and I cannot stress enough the importance of a Road Safety GB team that every road safety manager and road safety officer is a part of, and feels a part of.
We must stay ahead of the game in our casualty reduction work. It is so important that we develop national initiatives that are data led and fully researched. We have to get away from ‘feel good’ knee jerk schemes that are based on perception and popularity, that in reality are probably ineffective. Instead we must concentrate more on intelligence led initiatives that use our resources properly, and lead to real casualty reduction. This will take time but we have a wealth of expertise within this organisation – dare I say the best there is, certainly in the UK.
Road safety is becoming a very competitive business with charitable organisations, the emergency services and the private sector all vying for a slice of our cake; it would be foolish to ignore them, or treat them as competition.
This brings me back to my comment about sharing our knowledge and expertise. We have Timebank, we have an annual conference, we have expert advisor groups. They are all there to help us as road safety officers and teams to work effectively to reduce casualties. We should utilise them to the full.
My style as chair will be no different to my style as a road safety manager. I will constantly pursue better communication, I will delegate as much as I should, and give the team a greater share of the workload as that is the only way a team can work at its optimum. I will be democratic and no decisions will be made without consultation with officers and/or policy and management committee. As I said earlier, the team is not confined to officers or policy and management; we are all part of ‘the team’ and we should ‘all’ be involved in decision-making.
Of course there will be tough decisions to make. If this association is to be at the top of the tree it will need to invest – and that may require a greater investment from the membership. We will need to work smarter and become more efficient with our resources. We will need to become much more commercially aware to ensure we remain viable. With the excellent support of Tim, Alan, Theresa, James, Liz and Brian, I am confident we will stay at the top.
I want to work closely with you all, and meet as many of you as possible within the next two years. I am very much looking forward to the challenges ahead, and to taking Road Safety GB beyond 2010.
I thank you all in anticipation of your full support in the future.