Wigan’s roads deemed some of safest

A speed warning sign on Scot Lane
A speed warning sign on Scot Lane

WIGAN’S roads are some of the safest in England, according to a new survey.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has reported that Wigan’s road safety measures are benefiting from increased spending by the local authority.

The results, released this week, show that Wigan saw a 39 per cent increase in road safety spending in 2011/12 compared to 2010/11.

It means the borough is performing better than most local authorities, with IAM reporting that nationally, on average, £23m – or 15 per cent – has been slashed from budgets.

Road safety minister Mike Penning said he expected road safety to be a key priority for councils across the country.

He said: “Road safety is a top priority. However, we do not believe that national targets are needed to persuade people of the importance of road safety or to prove the Government’s commitment to saving lives.

“We removed ring-fencing from local authority grants so that councils can set their own priorities.

“We would expect road safety would remain a priority for local communities and local spending would reflect this.

“We are providing £3bn to councils across England for road maintenance between 2011 and 2015 which is more in cash terms than the previous four years.

“We also gave them generous windfall handouts last year following the severe winter.”

Wigan sits in 136th place in a list of 141 councils, with highest cuts being in Northumberland, which will see nearly a 100 per cent cut in traffic management and education spending.

Among the services to suffer are rehabilitation courses for motoring offenders, training and information for young drivers, safe routes to schools schemes and school crossing patrols

IAM chief executive Simon Best said: “In difficult times, councils can be more innovative and flexible in their approach by working with the voluntary and private sectors to provide the services they can no longer afford.

“Austerity is forcing councils to make difficult choices, but the fact that these cuts only represent the first year of savings under the coalition’s spending review is deeply worrying.

“Cuts of this scale risk lives as well as the UK’s table-topping status as the best in the world for road safety.

“The government needs to bring back casualty reduction targets so that councils make road safety a priority.

“I’m also concerned that patchy spending on maintenance will not keep pace with our crumbling roads.”