This week the Government published the annual statistics on reported road casualties in Great Britain.
Behind these figures are personal tragedies for thousands of families up and down the country whose loved ones have been killed or injured on our roads.
They should be a wake-up call for Ministers. After decades of progress, for some time there have been worrying rises in casualty rates for months. The rises in fatalities is particularly serious amongst vulnerable road users like pedestrians (12% increase from last year) and cyclists (4% up from last year).
As Shadow Roads Minister I have called on Government Minister to get to the bottom of why this is happening, including assessing the impact of cuts in road safety and police budgets. And they should bring back targets for improving road safety so we can both get both incentives and accountability back into the system.
Last Friday, Cllr Pete Griffiths and I welcomed “Mr Pothole” to Kings Norton. Mark “Mr Pothole” Morrell is national campaigner for better road maintenance who I have got to know and respect as Labour’s Shadow Roads Minister.
The purpose of the visit was to look at how Birmingham City Council’s Highways contract is being managed by Amey PLC, using Rednal and Hillmeads Roads in Kings Norton as examples.
Yesterday, I was delighted to represent the Labour Front Bench in a debate on Harvey’s Law.
As Labour’s Shadow Roads Minister, I was pleased to help the campaigners from “Harvey’s Army” to secure a commitment from the Minister so all Highways England contracts will reintroduce mandatory procedures for scanning and logging dogs found run over on motorways and other roads that they manage.
As the proud owner of Charlie the cat (see photos!), a survivor of a road collision, it was also great that the Minister confirmed that the procedures will be applied to cats as well. Local authorities will also be encouraged to follow best practice regarding pets run over on roads which they control.
Birmingham MPs were active in the Commons yesterday on behalf of our City. I raised the issue of school crossing patrols and the unfair financial settlement being imposed on Birmingham by the Conservative Government. Gisela Stuart from Edgbaston called for a radical overhaul of the way local government is treated so Birmingham can better meet the challenges and opportunities our City faces. As Shadow Police Minister, Jack Dromey took apart the Government’s treatment of our police services- a theme also taken up by Steve McCabe from Selly Oak.
Every child should be able to walk, cycle or scoot to school safely. But far too often our roads are just too dangerous for them to do so. Two thirds of primary school children think streets in their community are unsafe for walking and cycling. And no wonder. Figures released today show that in 2014 the number of children killed or seriously injured rose for the first time in 20 years.
So it’s no suppose that proposed cuts to School Crossing Patrols across Birmingham have generated a lot of anger and fear among parents, children, school staff and of course the school crossing staff themselves.