Three months into the job, the new Road Safety GB chair talks about the challenges ahead for ‘the voice of road safety’, the positive reaction to the rebrand and the reasons underlying the proposed subscription fee increase.
Since I took over the Chair of Road Safety GB in April 2009, the Officers of the Association, the Policy and Management (P&M) reps and I have been very busy.
Since AGM we have had two Officers meetings, a meeting of P&M, a meeting of the Website and Communications Team and, in addition, I have attended a meeting of the Road Safety Delivery Board.
At my first meeting with Officers we discussed the management of the organisation – where the strengths and weaknesses lay, and what we need to do to make Road Safety GB the leading road safety organisation in the UK.
A crucial item to emerge was the continued funding of Road Safety GB. Theresa was quite clear in her report to AGM that increased investment from the membership is vital. The membership fee has remained static for a number of years, while the association’s costs have risen.
We are fortunate to be supported by DfT through its contribution to the website, and the website is now a source of modest income.
For some years the Association has enjoyed a large sum investment at favourable rates and it has been the members’ view that while this sum remained subscription levels should remain low. However, due to the natural and progressive ‘demand’ for improved service and higher profile over recent times, the financial profile of the association has changed.
This investment made in recent years has created a much stronger organisation, but at an inevitable cost. The creation of the website in 2002 and its subsequent upgrades has given the association a much better position in the world of road safety. Our website now has the potential to provide valuable income in the future, as do our expert and creative members through the development of highly professional resources.
In addition, the introduction of a dedicated press and public relations service has made the media far more aware of who we are and what we stand for. And a dedicated administrative support system provides us with an almost instant response to queries and provides an invaluable communications tool for members.
The biggest change of all has been the recent re-brand which the DfT has stated is an excellent way forward. They have recognised the significant changes to the organisation, the new vision and impetus, and are now very keen to discuss ways forward for both organisations.
Road Safety GB is – no doubt – the big player in the reduction of casualties in the UK. As Local Highway Authorities, we have a Statutory Duty to reduce road casualties through education, training and publicity. Our challenge now is to ensure that Road Safety Officers remain the leaders in the field – locally, regionally and nationally – and to achieve this we will all need to invest further. We must remain ‘the voice of road safety’ and work together.
We will need to work smarter and become more efficient with our future resources. We will need to become much more commercially aware as an organisation and attract further investment.
Members must be in no doubt that subscriptions must increase unless the association is to reduce costs – which can only be achieved by cutting or losing services such as administration, PR or website support.
I ask you to seriously think about these issues when considering your response to the fees consultation, which you should have received from your regional representative. If you have not received it please contact your representative or Alan Fisher, National Secretary.
I attended the Road Safety Delivery Board at Great Minster House on 17th June. This was well attended and included representatives from DfT, DSA, HA, CSS, ACPO, and others including of course Road Safety GB. We discussed a number of issues around child safety; speed; incidents involving pedestrians and alcohol; and elderly road users.
I was pleased to accept an invitation to sit on a group to examine the issues around elderly road users, and briefly discussed the need to work closer with DSA and other organisations, and have forged links with the appropriate people. I hope to begin discussions with these people in the coming months. Minutes of all RSDB meetings can be accessed on the DfT website.
Patricia Hayes (DfT), who chairs the board, was very complimentary about the new Road Safety GB brand. I have since met with Mike Fawcett, Head of Road Safety Division, to discuss our ‘partnership’ in the future, and what roles Road Safety GB should play to assist the Government deliver its new strategy beyond 2010. It was a very good meeting with many positives and I will, of course, update you when I have more substantial information.
This leads me to a debate with my ‘critical friends’ from outside the organisation, who have asked some searching questions about Road Safety GB, which I have answered truthfully, from my personal viewpoint.
Questions such as:
• Where do we want to be in 3, 5 10 years time?
• How will we get there?
• What prevents us from progressing?
• Are we really the voice of road safety?
• If we are not, how do we become the voice of road safety?
• How would road casualty reduction be affected if Road Safety GB, or its members, did not exist?
In trying to answer these questions I began to realise the challenges we face.
These questions will form part of our debates at Officers’ Group and P&M, through surveys among you the members, and through further meetings with our critical friends.
Despite the potential issues ahead, I firmly believe that there are many positive things happening in our organisation since ‘re-brand 2009’ and I firmly believe we are heading towards much better things for Road Safety Officers and for Road Safety GB. But the association needs your support and commitment to develop the solutions.
I am actively seeking partners who can assist us in the future in terms of our delivery, and others who can support this excellent organisation in other ways.
This is a big challenge and I will of course give it my full commitment.
Best wishes to you all.
0191 383 3767