Simon Hayes, the first elected Hampshire and IOW Police and Crime Commissioner, held a much appreciated meeting with members of the town’s volunteer website and social media team this week. The focus was on road safety and in particular aspects that can reduce conflict between various road users.
Funding and responsibility
Simon explained that the police had suffered major funding reductions and were having to look differently at how they could provide their service. A further £25million is having to be saved due to government cuts and there will be a need to reduce the ‘demand’ on the police. This may mean people taking more responsibility for their own safety and security with schemes like SpeedWatch, Neighbourhood Watch and Community Safety Partnerships becoming more important as well as workshops on crime prevention.
The Plan and consultation
Simon is presently involved in refreshing his Policing Plan which sets the budget and priorities, admitting that road safety content had been light and needed addressing. Part of this will involve consultations with people in a “meaningful way” but with such a large area to cover this will be an enormous task.
With a Sustainable Travel Forum in Whitchurch a possibility, issues which affect the more vulnerable were raised.
Parked cars on pavements, disabled spaces used illegally, speeding vehicles in town and drivers on mobile phones all increase the fear of traffic for walking and cycling to schools, the shops or workplaces.
Much revolved around removing conflicts between road users which can reduce traffic danger and lead to a more pleasant and safer environment for all. It was put to Simon that a measure of a safe environment would be one where parents could allow an 8/9 year old to cycle or walk to school or the local shops, and that should be the aim.
Simon was very receptive to these ideas and, having members of his own family who regularly cycle, he understood the main issues and the parental concerns.
On the same side
On the issue of cycle/driver conflicts it was put to him that many drivers don’t want cyclists on the roads, and this is equally sought by many on bikes who see full segregation as an answer. As such, drivers and cyclists are effectively on the same side and have a common aim in which the police could have a role, particularly when making comment on road schemes.
Simon was asked if the police could be more proactive in encouraging highways engineers to consider all road users in planning infrastructure so that conflict points were designed out. Less conflict means less pressure on police resources. Many cycle routes are presently piecemeal and end just where they are needed most. Local concerns over the B3400 and the Tufton intersection were highlighted, particularly as the increase in housing will result in more traffic movements.
Communication of the police with the local community was also raised, and Simon admitted that this had worsened over recent years and needed to improve. He undertook to raise this with their media department as it was important to promote the good news they carry out.
Overall it was a very useful and productive meeting and Simon asked that contact be maintained.
Simon is thanked for giving his time to discuss these issues.
After the meeting Simon Hayes tweeted:
Simon Hayes @HayesHantsPCC
Plsd to meet tonight & discuss transport/cycling issues with Andrew Reeves-Hall & John Buckley.
A lot in common.