MINUTES OF A MEETING OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND TRANSPORT SELECT COMMITTEE HELD AT COUNTY HALL, NEWPORT, ISLE OF WIGHT ON WEDNESDAY, 28 MAY 2003 COMMENCING AT 9.30 AM
Mr G P Price (Chairman), Mr J R Adams, Mr A C Bartlett, Mr J A Bowker, Mrs B D Clough, Mr M J Cunningham, Mr J Effemey, Mrs M J Miller, Mr V J Morey, Mr A J Mundy, Mr R C Richards, Mr R A Sutton
Portfolio Holders :
Mrs T M Butchers, Mr E Fox
Also Present (non voting) :
Mrs S A Smart. Mr A A Taylor
THAT the minutes of the meeting held on 22 April 2003 be confirmed.
9. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
There were no declarations made at this stage.
10. INVESTIGATION INTO INCREASE IN ROAD TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS
The Head of Select Committee and Best Value Support reminded members that the Select Committee had decided at its Development Day to undertake an investigation into the increase in serious and fatal road traffic accidents. The Committee had agreed the scope of the review at its meeting on 22 April 2003. The draft Road Safety Plan had also now been endorsed for public consultation.
The Chairman welcomed a number of Key Stakeholders who had been invited to give evidence in relation to dealing with the effects of serious and fatal road traffic accidents (RTA’s).
Sergeant K Elliot, of Hampshire Constabulary, supported by Inspector B Pearce and PC S Richardson, gave a presentation which outlined details on the costs to society of RTA’s, police resources involved in dealing with these, causations and approaches to accident reduction. A range of issues were clarified and highlighted in response to questions by members of the Select Committee. Based on the Department for Transport figures for the average financial costs for classes of collisions the costs for RTA’s in 2002 on the Island was £8,191,860 for the 6 fatal accidents, £14,476,500 for the 90 serious accidents and £5,594,470 for the 349 slight accidents. This gave a total cost for the 445 RTA’s, which included factors ranging from lost production to personal loss, of £28,262,830.
Mr R Hards, Chief Fire Officer, reported on the strong partnership with other agencies dealing with RTA’s. The involvement of the Fire and Rescue Service was reactive to events and the number of incidents requiring attendance had decreased. The Select Committee was advised that it was likely that a number of initiatives on RTA’s would arise to meet changes involved in the Integrated Risk Management Planning to be undertaken during 2003.
Mr P Cassford, Training Manager of the Isle of Wight Ambulance Service, gave an outline of the resources available to respond to emergency calls, including RTA’s. Serious incidents could affect the ability to respond to other medical emergencies thereby having an effect on meeting national targets.
The input of having to deal with the hospitalisation of RTA casualties was stressed. This could lead to early discharge of patients so a bed was available and increased waiting times in Accident and Emergency and other out patient facilities.
Mr J Matthews, HM Coroner for the Island, in addition to circulating details of inquests, impact of these on bereaved families and those involved in dealing with incidents and Police resources involved highlighted his belief that the majority of accidents arose from driver error. Speed was a major factor and the possibility of an all Island speed limit should not be discounted.
Dr Marion Sinclair, Project Manager of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Safety Camera Partnership, gave a presentation on the work of the Partnership, its objectives and findings from pilot studies across England. The importance of safety cameras in accident prevention was stressed and that they should not be seen as a revenue raising facility.
Mrs B Wilkinson of the Isle of Wight Branch of Advanced Motorists spoke on the role the organisation could play in raising driving standards. She highlighted the difficulties in educating people to consistently drive in accordance with speed limits and with regard to other road users. Police involvement with driver education schemes was also stressed.
The Select Committee then received an outline from officers from the Engineering Services Section on the part played by engineering, enforcement and education in road safety.
Mr P Hayward, Operational Manager - Design, referred to the partnership working detailed in the draft Road Safety Plan. The Select Committee was reminded of the priority assessment scheme utilised to draw up the highway capital programme. Mr P Taylor, Traffic and Transportation Manager, referred to the Speed Management Strategy contained within the draft Road Safety Plan. He outlined existing links with other agencies and the need for additional resources for road safety education and training. Mr B Crane, Principal Road Safety Officer, spoke on the core work undertaken with regard to Child/Pedestrian Safety, Children on Cycles and Pre Driver Training. The lack of resources did not permit any additional initiatives although some short term funding had been obtained from the Department of Transport for child safety. Pressures on the road safety budget could lead to the need to charge children attending cycle proficiency training.
The Portfolio Holder for Transport, Mr E Fox, outlined the funding difficulties for highways which had an effect on road safety initiatives and schemes designed to impact on accident reduction and prevention.
The Select Committee after considering the comments of all the Key Stakeholders highlighted several points that could be progressed. The concern of the emergency services, particularly the Ambulance Service, on difficulties encountered by emergency vehicles travelling to and from incidents, using blue lights and sirens, with the action of other motorists was noted. Members believed that it should be possible to draw up guidance in conjunction with the services involved to assist all highway users.
The need to finalise the Road Safety Plan was stressed and it was vital to establish a Road Safety Partnership at an early date.
Additionally the Select Committee believed that no charge should be imposed on children attending cycle proficiency training. The intention of the Portfolio Holder to ensure that appropriate funding would be made available for this was noted.
The Chairman indicated that all the key points contained in the presentations by the stakeholders would be compiled in a report. This could then be submitted to the Executive identifying recommended action to assist in reducing serious and fatal road traffic accidents.
THAT a draft report be prepared for the Select Committees approval identifying the key issues involved in serious and fatal road traffic accidents and appropriate recommendations to assist in reducing these.