Halving Lancashire's road signs budget will cost lives warning

Labour's deputy leader County Coun John Fillis highlights the problem of roads where marking will not be renewed
Labour's deputy leader County Coun John Fillis highlights the problem of roads where marking will not be renewed

A decision to slash the budget for renewing road signs and highway markings in Lancashire will put lives at risk, critics claim.

Lancashire County Council’s cabinet has approved a £500,000 cut in the funding for renewal work.

Lancashire County Coun Keith Iddon, cabinet member for highways and transport,  said many road markings  are being renewed  as resurfacing work proceeds

Lancashire County Coun Keith Iddon, cabinet member for highways and transport, said many road markings are being renewed as resurfacing work proceeds

The savings will mean leaving some signs and lines on county roads faded and harder to see.

A report to councillors warned a lower standard of service “could increase the risk of collisions.”

A report to councillors advised warning signs will be maintained “where there is evidence of a significant casualty record” but a former cabinet member for highways called the decision an 'absolute disgrace.’

At this Thursday’s full meeting of the county council, deputy Labour leader County Coun John Fillis, will call for the decision, which halves the renewal budget, to be reversed.

Coun Fillis said he will ask cabinet member for highways, Tory County Coun Keith Iddon, how many people must die or be seriously injured to establish the "significant casualty record",

adding : “Significant casualty record means people will have to be killed or seriously injured before the council will do anything.”

The cut means only “safety critical” markings and signs or those where enforcement is required will be renewed in future.

Cllr John Fillis said safety on rural roads was a particular concern : "We have many rural roads with poor lighting right across Lancashire, the lines provide a good road reference for drivers, reducing the risk of collisions especially when driving in the dark.”

But Coun Iddon said an extra £5m is being spent on road maintenance in 2017/18 and many road markings are already being replaced as part of the current road-resurfacing progamme.

He said: “The proposal agreed by cabinet means we will continue to replace those road markings and signs which are critical to safety, such as solid centre line markings which indicate no overtaking, junction give way and stop lines, school zig zag markings and pedestrian crossing points.

"The main difference will be that some discretionary road markings and signs remain in a faded and worn condition for longer, new regulations mean that there is a lesser requirement for certain signs and lines and we will look carefully at which signs really do need to be replaced to reduce visual clutter."

Describing the council’s financial situation as "extremely challenging: he said: " It’s vital that we put the organisation on a more stable footing to protect frontline services and allow us to invest in the services people value most."

He continued: "We recognise that good quality roads are a priority and have put a further £5m into this year's budget for highway maintenance, however changing the way we renew signs and lines is one way we can make a significant saving in this area of the revenue budget.

"The reason we have been able to bring this efficiency saving forward is that a significant proportion of road markings are now being replaced as part of our extensive road resurfacing programme, and are funded from the capital programme rather than the revenue budget."

* What do you think? Is this a cut too far? Send your examples of roads in need of new lines or signs. Email us with your photos at lep.newsdesk@lep.co.uk