Discussions at June’s LGTAG Transportation Committee were heavily influenced by the previous day’s news that this year’s Local Transport Plan (LTP) budgets are being cut by 25%. And as with any bad news, regardless of how long anticipated, the shock is no less, but we need to move on. The need to reposition our services in line with lower levels of funding has been anticipated for several months and is now a reality.
The work of LGTAG members directly benefits our communities and reduces demands upon services, it is therefore all the more important that we use our resources efficiently. We should also be clear in our messages to colleagues in other sectors and to government that now is the time for more “joined up” thinking and working and to resist the temptation to retreat into silos, by defending individual budgets regardless of overall impact. This challenge can hopefully give the impetus for closer working across sectors that most of us have long sought and yet found difficult to achieve.
Road safety is a prime example; excellent work has been done to reduce deaths and injuries on our roads but much remains to be done. We have had a real impact saving lives and reducing injuries and saving families from the associated grief and pain. In doing so we have also reduced the demands for other services and the savings to the emergency services alone are significant. We know that road traffic accidents cost the police £30m and our health services £550m each year. The total cost of road traffic accidents is estimated to be almost £18 billion each year. Our work has contributed significantly to a 28% reduction in accidents since 1994, despite an increase in traffic of 16%.(i) Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain: 2008 – Annual Report
The work LGTAG is doing to influence travel choices, reduces congestion and the costs to industry caused by traffic delays. There are clear environmental benefits too by both reducing CO2 emissions and improving air quality. TAG members are also, as part of this work, promoting healthier lifestyles by encouraging walking and cycling, helping the health sector overcome one of its major challenges for future resources which are likely to result from obesity.
And the routine work of LGTAG members in maintaining our roads and footpaths both keeps industry moving and reduces accidents. The severe weather conditions we faced over the last winter have significantly damaged our roads and footpaths and we need to both deal with the consequences and plan for a future with increased frequencies of such events as climate change impacts upon our lives.
Let me be clear, this is not a plea for protection of specific budgets however, these are real examples of where we can make a positive contribution to reducing demands on services within a more constrained financial environment.
Chair LGTAG Transport Committee