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Wednesday 28 March 2018, 11:30 AM
  • Gloucestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl says motorists are being short-changed over the state of the roads
  • He told the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety at Westminster, “Motorists are taxed to the hilt through petrol tax, road tax and general taxation” and asked, “Where does it all go?”
  • Surl has made ‘Safe and social driving’ one of the six priorities of his police and crime plan and called on motorists to be more courteous to one another
  • He also called for some of the more ‘routine’ areas of roads policing to pass to Highways England to enable the police to prioritise more serious crimes

Gloucestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Martin Surl today launched a blistering attack on the country’s crumbling roads.

Blaming a chronic lack of investment over many years, he told a Parliamentary conference that motorists were being short-changed.

 "Motorists pay through the nose", says Martin Surl

In a keynote speech to the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety at Westminster, Mr. Surl said, “Motorists are taxed to the hilt through petrol tax, road tax and general taxation. Where does it all go?

“Councils blame the Government; the Government says it’s up to councils. But when other services which can mean the difference between life and death are crying out for funds, our roads remain forgotten and neglected. 

 

“People cannot enjoy or move along our roads in safety unless and until the plague of potholes that blight them is resolved. The surface of the moon might be smoother than some of the roads I drive on every day”.  

The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) provides support to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Transport Safety. It advises and informs members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords on air, rail and road safety issues.

Mr. Surl, who has made ‘Safe and Social Driving’ one of the six priorities of his police and crime plan was addressing the council’s Street Legal conference.

He said, “Parents tell me their biggest fear is when their sons and daughters learn to drive - and with good reason. Statistics show that more than a quarter of 17-19 year olds, most of them young men, crash within a year of passing their driving test.

Two young men were lucky to survive this crash in the Forest of Dean

“Nearly 1 in 3 of those killed or seriously injured on our roads is under the age of 25. A young girl is most at risk when she is being driven by her boyfriend. 

 “That’s why I have made a big investment in trying to educate young drivers and to change the attitudes of all motorists.

 

A mother tells secondary school students (below) of the day her son was killed in a car crash at one of the What If? road safety roadshows

“Why shouldn’t we give way at road junctions? Why not let others in if you’re in a traffic queue. We’ve all been there and yet normally reasonable people change when they get behind a wheel. A minor infringement becomes personal. It turns them into monsters.

“Driving should be an enjoyable experience. It should not be a battle. Getting the message across and changing habits is a huge challenge”.

Mr. Surl also called for a major re-think on how our roads are governed and suggested some of the responsibility for roads policing should pass to Highways England.

Should Highways England carry out routine patrols? 

The days when police are tied-up checking heavy goods vehicles, tachographs, the weight of loads - the sort of things a traditional traffic officer used to do - are past. If the Police are to focus on more serious issues like organised crime, modern slavery and child sexual exploitation they cannot do it all. 

 

The changing nature of demand on police time is like an iceberg with much of it unseen by the public

“I am not suggesting that policing our roads is not important because it is. It’s a question of priorities and I think that some of the more routine work could be carried out just as effectively by Highways England.

“The police workload is increasing at a time when their numbers and other resources are diminishing. Freeing-up officers from some of their more mundane responsibilities would surely be a good thing”.

Policing must adapt to be most effective, says PCC

For more information on the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety see http://www.pacts.org.uk/about/

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