Budgets for road repairs cut right across the UK

The advisory group Pacts (Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety) has reported that around 65% of local UK authorities have experienced cuts in their budgets for road safety engineering in the past year, but some cuts are unkinder than others. On average across England, budgets were reduced by about 15%, but in Kent and East Sussex the reduction was around 21% and 51% respectively.

Simon Best, CEO of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, has petitioned the Government to re-introduce casualty reduction targets that would force local councils to allocate more resources for road safety. Best said that cutting budgets for services such as ensuring safe routes and crossings for school children, driver training and corrective courses for driving offenders does not make sense.

He compared the wage of a crossing patrol to the cost of a traffic fatality as an example: about £3,000 per year as opposed to £1.6 million. This misdirection of funds, he said, will put more lives at risk and incidentally ruin Britain’s reputation as one the world’s safest countries to drive in.

However, county councils in both Kent and East Sussex had rebuttals to the criticism. They both said the cuts were largely due to government cut-backs, and that they were still focused on road safety for residents and visitors. Kirsty Russell of the Kent council said most of the reductions involved cuts in government grants for safety cameras, which are now the responsibility of Kent police.

Russell also pointed out that traffic fatalities in the area have continued to decrease in the past year, unlike the national average, which is reportedly rising. He noted that the council had allocated an extra £1 million for ‘crash remedial measures’.

James Holland of East Sussex council said they are looking for alternate funding sources to offset government cuts, and focusing more on instruction and enforcement of safe driving habits, as bad drivers cause more accidents than bad road conditions do.