3 Localism |
Role of localism
14. Localism is a key theme of the Government's
road safety strategy. The Government believes that decentralisation
will "create more room for local flexibility and innovation"
by "decentralising funding" and removing targets.
Mike Penning MP argued in favour of such an approach as follows:
Local communities are much more responsible in driving
the agenda forward in their areas. They know their roads and their
communities better than we in central Government do, but we will
give them all the help we can. As you said, the money was hypothecated
or ring-fenced into set areas before, but we have now removed
that. I am very pleased that we did so, because it has allowed
the local authorities to start thinking out of the box and not
say, "The only way to do this is x", normally with cameras,
but look at other options as well.
In order to support local authorities in road safety
delivery, the Government will provide a "local comparison
website and the Road Safety Observatory Portal for professionals,
which are both under development".
Local authority performance
15. Local authority road safety performance is
variable. As figure 2 illustrates, there is no clear pattern
in their performance (figure 2). The Government states that its
casualty reduction forecasts "can be achieved with the variation
in performances at the local authority level narrowing and moving
towards the level of the top performers".
reported road KSI casualties by local authority area.
16. Local authorities have also had variable
levels of success in reducing casualties (table 2).Table
2 KSI road casualties by local authority area - the best and worst
performing local authorities, comparing the 1994-98 average with
|% reduction comparing 1994-98 average with 2006-2010 average
|Telford & Wrekin
|Barking & Dagenham
||Brighton & Hove
||Redcar & Cleveland
Mr Penning told us that he believes some local authorities are
lagging behind in their progress as a result of not adopting best
I am also aware that other local authorities [...] no matter what
target was set, have just ignored it. It is not because they do
not want to improve things, but, frankly, the best practice just
has not got through. We need to push out best practice from places
such as Halton. Also, if we believe in local democracy, how can
you live in a community where a local authority is not promoting
road safety in the way that other areas are? It is not about money.
In most cases, it is about mindset and priorities.
Local authority resources
17. Road safety resources at a local level have come under
a number of pressures. There have been cuts to capital elements
of road safety grants and road safety funding is no longer ring-fenced.
This means funding for road safety measures cannot be guaranteed
during competition for resources.
In addition, there are other pressures on local authority funding
from wider Government funding cuts.
Several witnesses linked reductions in local authority resources
to loss of road safety provision. The Institute of Advanced Motoring
believes road safety is facing greater cuts than other policy
areas at a local authority level
and told us that:
Road safety is already suffering because of this perception that
we do not have targets and perhaps, if cuts have to be made, they
can be made in this easy area. We do need that leadership from
central Government to make sure the local authorities know that
this is an important area. [...]. We are seeing a lot of redundancies,
and a lot of people with many years' experience are leaving their
local authorities because they are closing road safety units.
It is not universal. Some authorities are good. The Government
struggle to highlight those authorities where there is best practice.
[...] What we are seeing is that the rate of cuts for road safety
and the road safety education heading are higher. They are about
19% compared to an overall 9% cut in local authority spending.
The damage arising from loss of funds was echoed by local authorities.
One of the benefits of the road safety grant that went was that
it was ring-fenced for use in road safety activity. Now that it
has been rolled into the local government formula grant settlement,
it is far harder to make the argument with financial officers
and politicians about the value of road safety that may or may
not happen when you are arguing against social services, libraries,
culture, old people and young people.
Local authorities also commented on the loss of skills.
In three out of the four authorities in South Yorkshire there
is nobody left now with road safety officer experience. If you
look back to Local Government Association guidance on best practice
for the number of road safety officers per authority, the guidance
is one road safety officer per 50,000 population. It means that
we are something like 10 road safety officers short on those guidelines
because of what my colleagues said about voluntary early severance,
part-time working and a lack of recruitment.
There is a risk that decentralisation of responsibility for road
safety could lead to further variability in performance, depending
on the resources provided for road safety at a local level.
As part of its evaluation of the Strategic Framework for Road
Safety, the Government should publish an analysis of the resources
used for road safety at a local level to highlight best practice
by local authorities, in particular noting innovative practices
and multi-agency approaches to achieving road safety goals.
Role of central Government
18. If the Government wants the UK to remain
a world leader in road safety, continued efforts in this field
must be maintained. The Government expressed its desire to share
best practice to encourage local authorities to improve road safety
in their areas. It is producing guidance for local authorities
to help achieve this. However, it is unclear to us what levers
the Government can use if local authorities choose not to prioritise
road safety, particularly given the funding pressures at play.
Whilst we welcome the promised guidance to help local authorities,
guidance will not necessarily lead to action, especially if the
skills and resources to put the guidance into practice are not
available at a local level. The Government should not passively
expect road safety to remain a priority. Mr Penning told us that
he plans to "name and shame" worst performing local
this proposition is not contained in the Strategic Framework.
should explain how it intends to measure which are the worst performing
local authorities and how it expects "naming and shaming"
them will improve their performance.
39 Strategic Framework p8 Back
Q 332 Back
Ev 86 para 9 Back
Strategic Framework p67 Back
Local Transport Today, LTT 582, 21 October - 3 November 2011 Back
Q 341 Back
Local transport governance and finance in England 2010
, Library Standard Note, SN/BT/5735 Back
Ev 117 para 2.4, Ev w65 para 2.10, Ev w6 para 3.4, Ev w19 para
3.2, Ev w22 para 2, Ev w57 para 1.4 Back
Ev 107 para 2.6 Back
Ev 90 para 3.4 Back
Q 14 Back
Q 15 Back
Q 155 Nick Clennett Back
Q 155 Ken Wheat Back
Q 156 Back
Q 157 Ken Wheat Back
Ev w71 para 4.1 Back
Q 372 Back