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Councils cut road safety budgets

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Research has revealed that councils across England decreased their road safety budgets by 15% last year the equivalent of £23million.

According to road safety charity the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) the amount was higher compared to other councils who decreased their budget by 6%. This included cuts to services such as rehabilitation courses for motoring offenders, training and information for young drivers, safe routes to school schemes and school crossing patrols.

Road safety precautions are important for councils to have in place to minimise the amount of accidents that can occur. The research showed that over half of English councils cut their spending on road safety and traffic management by more than 10%.

A substantial difference to where the cuts were made was also found. For example London Camden Council cut road safety spending by more than 70% (£4million) even though road casualties have increased by 10% since 2006. There was also a variation on how the spending for road maintenance was distributed. 37% of councils cut spending on road maintenance by more than 10% but 0.37% increased. As an example Northumberland Council cut by 63% yet Blackpool Council increased by 34%.

IAM Chief Executive Simon Best said: “In difficult times, councils can be more innovative and flexible in their approach by working with the voluntary and private sectors to provide the services they can no longer afford.

“Austerity is forcing councils to make difficult choices, but the fact that these cuts only represent the first year of savings under the coalition’s spending review is deeply worrying. Cutting road safety so hard makes no sense. The average wage of a lollipop lady is £3,000 a year while the cost of each road fatality is £1.6 million. So the returns on investment are huge.”

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By Amanda Bainbridge