Road Safety GB has expressed its concern for the safety of people living and travelling in Manchester following the local council’s decision to disband the city’s road safety team.
The Manchester Evening News (MEN) broke the news that Manchester City Council’s team of seven road safety officers has been disbanded to save £132,000 from the council’s highways budget.
There is apparently no option for any other partnership or organisation to take up the work of the road safety team. Instead, it appears that the council intends to ask teachers to educate school pupils about road safety.
Road Safety GB understands that the city’s school crossing patrol service will be retained, though cut back, but it is unclear who will manage the service.
Honor Byford, vice chair of Road Safety GB, said: “The implications of this decision, for the whole population of Manchester, are far reaching.
“The city has significant areas of deprivation where we know the risk of injury and death from road collisions is significantly higher than in other areas.
“There is also a significant proportion of the population for whom English is not their first language, and delivering road safety messages in a multi-cultural community needs special expertise.
“We have a growing population of elderly drivers who need support from road safety professionals to stay safe on the road and then there is the wider public health remit to consider – this duty is soon to return to local authorities. A major cause of injury and premature death amongst all ages is as a result of road collisions, yet the council is disbanding this small team of experienced staff on the eve of assuming responsibility for public health for Manchester.
“Naturally we are concerned for our colleagues in the road safety team, whose careers will be seriously affected by this decision.
“But I am sure that they, like us, will be more concerned at the prospect of people being killed and injured on Manchester’s roads because of this decision to effectively cease their preventative work.”
Alan Kennedy, chair of Road Safety GB, who is currently in Poland speaking at an international road safety conference, added: “Manchester City Council clearly does not understand that by investing in its road safety team it could bring in significant income, and the very good work of the team could become largely self sustaining.
“The cost of just one fatality is currently around £1.8m. A simple calculation of Manchester’s annual casualty toll will tell us what road casualties are costing the local Manchester community each year.
“It is a simple equation; invest modestly in excellent road safety services and see a massive return in reduced casualty costs.
“Road Safety GB will be communicating with Manchester City Council to express its grave concerns, and to encourage the council to reverse its decision.”