A local resident has taken to YouTube to protest against planned cuts to Rochdale Council’s current road safety provision.
The cuts would see Rochdale’s road safety team disbanded, much to the concern of the video’s producer, who narrates the film but has not named himself.
The Rochdale Council proposal reads as follows: “Currently road safety and education training is provided on a face to face basis – this proposal would change that delivery to maintain compliance with relevant safety education material sourced from the Transport for Greater Manchester Road Safety Partnership, Royal Society for the prevention of Accidents, Road Safety Great Britain and provide this to the schools and community.
“This would be in the form of a bulletin giving details or where further training can be obtained, and would still meet the minimum standard as set out in the road safety Act.”
Honor Byford, chair of Road Safety GB, has described the proposed cuts as “deeply concerning” and offered to work with council leaders to develop a viable business model to enable the service to continue.
The video outlines the work undertaken by the team including going into schools and colleges to promote road safety and deliver pedestrian and cycle training.
A teacher from the local Wardle Academy says that without the road safety team this training “would fall apart”.
The video also highlights the the team’s wider involvement with local residents through examples including dispensing in-car safety advice and drink and drug driving awareness.
The film also features an interview with a retired road safety officer, Paul Birch, who points out that removing the road safety team would contradict the Road Traffic Act of 1988.
Mr Birch says the act “places a statutory function on all local authorities to deliver road safety education and training”, adding that there “has to be somebody in place to be able to give that information and to give practical training”.
He also points to the financial implications of removing the road safety team, claiming that the casualty figures in Rochdale in the last 12 months show six deaths, costing a total of “over £6m”.
The video says that according to DfT figures, the average cost of a road death in the UK is £1.7m. It adds that Rochdale Council currently employs two full time and one part time employee “at a fraction of this cost”.
The video dismisses claims that the council could maintain the service without road safety officers, describing its position on the matter as “deeply flawed”. The narrator says outside of the casualty reduction team, the council has “no trained, experienced or specialised personnel” who can provide a road safety service.
Click here to read the Rochdale Council proposal and to access an online survey where people can give their views on the proposals.
In a further interview in the five-minute film, Dr Nick Plant from the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital says “a comprehensive road safety package is really important in reducing the number of children who come through our A&E” adding that his service is “clearly stretched”.
The narrator concludes that “the dedicated teams sent into schools by local authorities to teach our young people the skills they need to survive” is one of the reasons the UK has one of the best road safety records worldwide.
He adds that Rochdale already has in place a “cost effective and efficient system that is keeping our children safe” and asks without a casualty reduction team, “what will the next generation learn?”.
Commenting on the proposal to disband Rochdale’s road safety team, Honor Byford, chair of Road Safety GB, said: “Road Safety GB is deeply concerned at this proposal to completely remove the road safety education service in Rochdale. This is a statutory duty that the council is required by law to provide for its residents.
“Rochdale council currently possesses, at a very modest cost, a highly skilled and experienced team and their comprehensive network of contacts in schools, colleges the NHS and communities which, once it is gone, would take years to replace. This is a tangible asset.
“Rochdale ‘s casualty figures are currently lower than would be expected for a metropolitan area with its levels of social and demographic challenges, which is testament to the effectiveness of the work of the road safety team.
“I have written to the council leaders offering to help develop a viable business model that would enable the service to continue as the residents of Rochdale clearly want.”