Report of the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport
The Committee considered details of the new governance structure and operating model of the Staffordshire Safer Roads Partnership (SSRP). Members also received details of a wide range of initiatives used to promote road safety across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent with reference to the four Es: education, engagement, engineering and enforcement, which supported a wider culture change that would see excessive speed and inconsiderate behaviour on roads as socially unacceptable.
As part of the new governance arrangements implemented in 2016 two boards were established:
· The Strategic Board, which sets the strategic direction of the Partnership and, working with recommendations from the Operational Board, takes ultimate responsibility for key financial decision and scrutiny. Membership includes senior political representatives from the main Partner organisations.
· The Operational Board reviews current local issues across the whole spectrum of road safety to inform recommendations submitted to the Strategic Board.
The Chairman commented that he welcomed the work of the Partnership and acknowledged that it had been very successful. However, he expressed concern over its visibility and lack of public scrutiny. In examining the governance model, accounts and budget it was evident that it was a self-funding organisation. He queried where the funding came from and commented that if this was predominantly from educational course referrals it was potentially a concern that it was a business model dependent on people being caught speeding. Officers responded that enforcement activity was not driven by a desire to create income, and that enforcement was managed carefully and proportionately. The Chairman commented that it would be helpful to have a level of transparency, assurance and understanding for the public that cameras and mobile cameras were put in places of concern around safety, rather than the focus being on income generation. Officers confirmed that the location of cameras was based upon collision data and in response to concerns raised by the community. It was suggested that, in the genuine interest of safety, the locations of cameras could be advertised. In relation to a query about cameras being on or off, officers confirmed that there were periodic reviews on collision statistics and cameras would be activated in areas of recent collisions.
In considering data on collisions it was noted that this information covered the whole of the County and it was suggested that it would be useful to know variations and blackspots for specific areas. It was also queried whether there would be a focus on unclassified roads for the future. Queries were also raised about the issue of cyclist using pavements and HGVs speeding at night. Officers pointed out that areas were continually emerging as data was collected and analysed.
In relation to the Staffordshire’s Road Safety Grant fund which was launched in 2017 a member queried whether action had been taken to promote this. The Cabinet Member undertook to send information on this to members. In response to concerns raised about the lack of transparency and openness on the SSRP website, for example that it contained no information on the governance structure or budget, the Cabinet Member pointed out that this was currently being developed.
RESOLVED – That the Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee will continue to scrutinise the Staffordshire Safer Roads Partnership.