We must work in partnership and share expertise, says Road Safety GB chair

07.26 | 4 July 2010 | | 5 comments

The chair of Road Safety GB has spoken about the need for road safety professionals to work in real partnerships and to share knowledge and expertise, in order to deal with the ‘very different’ financial world the profession finds itself in.

Alan Kennedy made his remarks while addressing delegates at the RSS annual project managers’ conference in Manchester last week.

He also outlined Road Safety GB’s commitment to work closely with RSS to gain the support of other road safety organisations affected by government-imposed budget cuts. The two organisations will also engage with the government to find a way to continue to protect road users and minimise casualties.

Alan Kennedy said: “The financial situation will clearly be very different in the future and road safety professionals will have to adapt to this. 

“For many years we have been working in a competitive world, that has actually been badged as ‘multi-agency working’.

“Despite some excellent partnership arrangements around the UK, the reality is that many organisations, agencies and individuals are unable to form effective partnerships because of local politics and policies, and in some cases a lack of will. 

“With so many organisations involved in road safety, all wanting to be at the head of the field, competition was inevitable and this has been detrimental to effective and efficient casualty reduction. 

“We also have to be brave enough to say what we think to those who expect us to deliver road safety programmes that look good in the media – but are actually not effective. 

“We have to share our expertise and our depleted resources to get economies of scale and develop regional and national resources and programmes that are tested. 

“There is a wealth of expertise out there and some excellent initiatives at local level.  We must share this expertise, particularly in the current financial situation.”
The RSS meeting was opened by Meredydd Hughes, chief constable of South Yorkshire Police and chair of RSS, who spoke about the challenges facing us all in the future.  He was optimistic that a workable solution would come through in the end. 

RSS’s Trevor Hall spoke in more depth about the current situation and ongoing discussions with the government and road safety minister, Mike Penning.


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    In answer to the point Mandy makes (which is a very good one) the Road Safety Knowledge Centre should go some way towards addressing this. The Knowledge Centre will be an online library of road safety resources – campaigns, educational and training programmes, reports, research and other initiatives. The hope is that before developing a new initiative, road safety practitioners will refer to the Knowledge Centre to see if there is something already in existence that they can either use as it is or adapt for their own use – rather that reinventing the wheel from scratch. The Knowledge Centre will go live in early August.

    Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety GB newsfeed
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    Taking Alan’s vision one step further is it not also time to establish a set of RS programmes with agreed objectives and evaluation method we can all use? It need not be prescriptive or exclusive – rather a national menu from which each LA would pick those programmes appropriate to their local conditions. We keep saying we should not “reinvent the wheel” but that is exactly what each of us does if we design a new RS intervention without considering what already exists elsewhere. It has partly been a question of knowing what is out there, I know, but RSGB is taking steps to address that. At present our RS offer is like a patchwork and what is offered to residents depends entirely where they live. Surely there should be equality of opportunity in a subject as important as ours?

    Mandy Rigault. Oxfordshire. E-valu-it Regional Champion SE
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    I would agree with Alan Kennedy’s sentiment that we should work together and use best practice that has been developed and indeed proven. We need to all sing from the same hymn sheet and show a united front. However it would be at least courteous when trying to share such proven practices that an acknowledgement or thank you would be forthcoming from the leaders of RSGB. Some of the Guidelines “we” use are outdated and need urgent revision. Come on and move with the changes we are all experiencing especially within the squeezed budgets we are all suffering from.

    Terry Dodman at Suffolk C.C. Highway Safety Engineering Team
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    I was privileged to be at the Quarterly Meeting of RSGB-London last Friday and hear Alan Kennedy’s excellent presentation on the future of road safety. If I were to sum up what Alan said in one word it would be professionalism. Road safety officers must lead the way and attract partnership working from those agencies who can contribute to our cause. We need to paint on a majestic canvas and not continue producing cameos. This is why I am so hostile to RSOs humbly holding on to their raison d’tre by befriending the environmentalists. RSOs are not eco-warriors but protectors of a more tangible here-and-now. Road safety is a stand-alone discipline that deserves to be recognised for the altruistic contribution it makes to society. Rather than melt into the blancmange of other peoples’ multi-objectives we should strive to be leaders in our own field and inspire those who can help us, to do so. Alan’s vision is a blue print for that mission and I would urge all RSOs to embrace the drive that will bring us out of the back-offices of local authority into the showcase of our profession. Is there a lesson from history? Yes, there is. The Royal College of Surgeons started from modest beginnings in the interest of surgery and its practitioners. Today, it is one of the most revered institutions in the workplace. I see no harm in using them as a role model and wish Alan well in his leadership.

    Roy Buchanan Sutton
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    I agree entirely but isn’t it a shame that don’t seem to have moved on from the Audit Commissions’ ‘Changing Lanes’ report published over three years ago? It said road safety should be more data and evidence-led and also carried out in partnership.

    Localism, as espoused by the current regime, isn’t the way forward and the only way to deliver effective services is at a regional level. Sure, we can carry on doing ‘our thing’ in ‘our area’ but unless we can prove that we are making a difference then the current funding crisis may seem like nothing.

    Richard – Banbury
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