…as survey shows 23 per cent of young people under 25 had NO road safety education in school
Plus:….Bromley hit back over ‘parking targets’ allegations…Drivers’ warning shot to councils
A NEW national road safety competition is calling on school children to create their own short animated films to communicate key road safety messages to their fellow pupils.
The competition has been launched by the RAC, the Department of Transport’s THINK! team and Aardman Animations, the latter of which has created Horace, a road safety mascot for the 21st century.
Together, THINK! and the RAC are contacting every primary, junior and secondary school in the UK and asking teachers to encourage their children to participate in the animation competition and for teams of pupils to create their own stop-frame animations and characters to tell vital road safety messages.
RAC head of external affairs and community Pete Williams said: “The key to getting children to really understand road safety is to build initiatives around them – so that’s what we’ve done with this competition.
“Children are best placed to identify the road safety messages which have real ‘cut-through’ with their peers, and animation is a great, engaging way of bringing these messages to life.
“Our campaign is designed to fit in with the Department for Transport’s THINK! website and resource packs which have a wealth of information children can use to create and inspire their own animations.”
Road safety minister Robert Goodwill said: “The numbers of children being injured or killed on our roads in recent years is the lowest it’s been for decades but until we reach the point when no children are hurt, our work to improve safety will continue.
“The RAC’s initiative will ensure pupils across the country learn more about the importance of road safety and I hope that with Horace’s help the number of children hurt on our roads will decline even further.”
RAC chief executive Chris Woodhouse said: “Road casualties in the UK might be at a record low but greater effort is needed to bring them lower still. “Every life lost is one too many and another family devastated.
“It is our duty to make sure that future generations understand how to use our roads safely, and stay safe themselves – after all, these children will be the motorists of the future.”
In 2012 a total of 6,999* child pedestrians under the age of 16 were injured on British roads. Sadly, 20 of these lost their lives and a further 13 child cyclists died and 2,185** were injured in accidents.
The RAC’s Report on Motoring 2014 research has shown that 31 per cent of motorists identified the biggest danger for children is around distractions including playing ball games, talking with friends and using mobile technology.
Frighteningly 23 pc of young people (under 25 years) surveyed said they had no road safety education in school at all and just 57 pc said that they had had a little road safety education in school.
The competition is open to school children aged four to 16, as well as clubs, Scouts, Brownies and other groups as well as individuals. Entry is via the website rac.co.uk/childroadsafety, which contains links to a comprehensive range of teaching resources.
The competition closes on Friday July 4th 2014. First prize in each age category is £1,000 for the winning school and there are three runners-up prizes of an Aardman model-making workshop for the schools. The first 10,000 pupils to enter the competition will receive an RAC Road Safety Kit.
You can find out more and register your interest at rac.co.uk/childroadsafetyand visit Horace’s own Facebook page facebook.com/Horace.Champion or follow him on Twitter @HoraceChampion for the latest news and to see the latest animation entries. (Source: RAC press release)
BROMLEY HIT BACK OVER ‘PARKING TARGETS’ ALLEGATIONS
Bromley council have denied claims made in a BBC TV programme that they set targets for revenue from parking enforcement income.
In a fiercely-worded statement responding to the programme Bromley say they have NEVER set such targets.
The statement follows a BBC London Inside Out programme which said London councils were to be investigated over their parking enforcement after evidence suggests they have been illegally setting targets.
BBC Inside Out London said they had seen contracts from Lambeth, Bromley and Hackney councils which appear to set targets for tickets but added that all three councils said they do not have targets and the number issued annually has fallen.
Inside Out claimed that in Bromley’s contract, with enforcement company VINCI, there is a baseline of 72,000 tickets and for every PCN over that number the company gets a performance payment of up to £20 a ticket.
In its response Bromley said the council was asked by the BBC to reply to the allegations in the programme,but the BBC chose to include only 12 words of its statement – and to date, the council has not received any correspondence from central Government.
The council’s full un-edited statement reads
“The council’s parking enforcement contract commenced in 2006, predating the statutory guidance by two years.
“The council did consider the guidance when it opted to extend the existing contract in 2010, but concluded that maintaining the existing successful contract was the best option available.
“This decision has given us time to evaluate the model contract advocated in the guidance, which very few authorities had adopted at the time.
“It is important to note that the council has never set targets for revenue from parking enforcement income.
“The purpose of specifying a number of penalty charge notices (PCNs) is to monitor the work of our contractor, and it is only one of a number of indicators used to measure performance.
“The number of PCNs expected is kept under review, and has actually been reduced in recent years.
“The approach taken by the council and its willingness to reduce indicative PCN numbers within the contract is a matter of fact and shows that the authority is clearly motivated by its statutory duties and its objectives of maintaining a turnover of parking spaces and reducing traffic congestion, as set out in its parking strategy, and not by raising revenue.
“We can confirm that the council’s lawyers remain content with the integrity of contract and that no changes are planned to it ahead of its maturity in 2016, at which point any relevant statutory guidance which might exist at the time will of course be considered as part of the re-tendering process.”
“It was not made clear in the programme that the specified number of penalty charge notices has actually been reduced in the period of the contract (from 72,000 PCNs p.a. to 66,0000 PCNs p.a.), which further demonstrates that this was not about targets for revenue but about meeting the objectives set out in the council’s parking strategy
“As London’s largest borough, with more miles of road than any council to patrol, the fourth highest car ownership per head of population, and a thriving sub-regional shopping centre in the form of The Glades, it could be expected that Bromley would issue more parking tickets than most other boroughs.
“The reverse is true. “In 2012/13, Bromley issued fewer parking tickets than 20 of the other 32* London boroughs with only 12 London boroughs issuing fewer.
“In proportion to our population, Bromley issued 293 PCNs per 1,000 residents. Only seven boroughs issued fewer in proportion, whilst 25 issued more.
“In the same year only 743 Bromley parking tickets (0.8 per cent, less than the London borough average of 1.1 pc) went to the independent appeals service (PATAS).
“Of these, only 36 pc of these appeals were granted, again a significantly better record than the London borough average, almost 50 pc.
“All of these facts combined clearly demonstrate that Bromley’s approach to parking enforcement has never been about targets for revenue but all about meeting the objectives set out in the council’s publicly available parking strategy
“The parking strategy and the annual report can be viewed by following the linkswww.bromley.gov.uk/parking.”
In a statement dated January 25th Lambeth council – without directly commenting on the programme – said they had cut the number of parking tickets issued by more than 25 per cent, which equals around 63,000 less, over the last four years.
Lambeth added that they had issued 250,000 penalty charge notices in the financial year 2009/10 – but that figure is falling to an expected 187,000 in 2013/14.
Cllr Imogen Walker, cabinet member for environment and sustainability, said: “Parking control is an essential service which makes sure the streets are clear for traffic, including emergency vehicles, to get around the borough.
“Our focus is on providing excellent customer services and we are introducing new technology, such as pay by phone, which makes it easier for our customers to park.
“As a result we have been able to scale back enforcement in many areas and dramatically reduce the number of penalty charge notices we issue.
“We have done this by working with residents and businesses and using more strategic, focused enforcement when it comes to tackling traffic problems.
“We are working closely with our parking enforcement service provider, and continuing to ensure our roads are kept safe and clear.”
A major factor has been giving drivers five-minutes leeway before tickets are issued, and allowing parking wardens more ability to be lenient, added Lambeth.
(Sources: Bromley council press release, Lambeth council statement))
(NOTE: The programme said the Traffic Management Act states that performance and rewards or penalties should never be based on the number of Penalty Charge Notices (PCN) issued, and that authorities should not set targets for revenue.)
BLOCKED DRAINS AND FLOODED ROADS – Drivers warning shot to councils
Attempts to convince council-tax-paying motorists that ponds and lakes on UK roads this winter are a one-off event fail to hold water with more than two thirds of their members, say the AA.
While 68 pc of 23,700 AA-Populus survey respondents are prepared to accept that extreme weather has contributed to roads turning into watercourses, 67pc blame councils for not maintaining drains well enough.
And 37pc of the sample feel strongly that road authorities have let them down compared to 23pc who strongly argue that relentlessly bad weather is the reason why ponds and pools of water have replaced potholes as this winter’s main menace for drivers.
“Disturbingly, the survey suggests that flooding on roads is now becoming accepted as part of the driving landscape in the UK” say the AA. It finds that 71pc of the AA members support the view – 24pc strongly – that “there are one or two notorious spots where big puddles develop on the road but everyone local knows about them and just deals with them”.
The AA concludes that a majority of its members are prepared to cut local authorities some slack due to the amount of water on roads this winter, but councils’ cards are marked if poor drainage persists in the future.
Consequently, the AA will carry out the same survey next winter to see if its members feel that the state of roads has improved or remains prone to flooding.
AA president Edmund King said: “Inevitably, after this winter’s appalling weather, there will be an enquiry into the resilience of the UK’s transport network.
“Part of that will have to include road drainage. “The Pitt review of the flooding in the summer of 2007 found that there was a lack of data about drainage systems and who was responsible for them.
“It is worrying that nearly three quarters of AA members say that, when it rains heavily, they know of stretches of local road almost guaranteed to become water-logged.
“If they are well-known, why haven’t road authorities dealt with them – before an unwary non-local driver comes to grief?”
AA-Populus survey, conducted between 20-27 January 2014 (Source: AA press release)