Police commissioner grilled over Sussex road safety

Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne

Concern about the safety of road users around Sussex was top of the agenda at the latest police and crime panel meeting.

The news comes with an increase in the number of people seriously killed and injured in road incidents in 1066 country recently.

The panel – set up to scrutinise and support the work of the Police and Crime Commissioner – challenged Katy Bourne over a rise in the number of cyclists, motorbike riders and pillion passengers involved in serious accidents.

Many bikers have been killed on the A259 in the past few months along with Christian Martin who died after a crash on Battle Road and Toby Gasson who was killed when he crashed into three parked cars on Emmanuel Road, Hastings.

The A21 was also named England’s ‘highest risk road’ in September.

The panel asked the Commissioner what Sussex Police planned to do to address this.

Mrs Bourne shared plans to educate cyclists, bikers and pillion passengers, as well as other road users, in a bid to cut the number of accidents and urged members to highlight local issues with their district commanders.

The perceived lack of policing of 20mph zones and inconsistencies in the way roads are policed were both raised.

The commissioner explained while officers would target areas where motorists are persistently speeding, 20mph zones were designed to be self-enforcing with speed calming measures helping to slow traffic.

Assuring members she would discuss their concerns with the Chief Constable, Mrs Bourne highlighted the work of the Safer Sussex Roads Partnership (SSRP), made up of local authorities and emergency services.

 “The SSRP and its success is the collective responsibility of the authorities involved,” she said.

“I would urge you to make your views heard within your local authorities.

“The role of the commissioner is to look at how well the police involvement is working.”

Panel chairman cllr Brad Watson asked Mrs Bourne to take their comments back to the Chief Constable.

“The issue of speed and speed management is one that is raised time and again,” he said.

“Members of the public often feel there is a lack of action by police.”

“This is a public awareness issue and something as simple as seeing police taking action would reassure people.”

Members were also given the opportunity to discuss the financial position of Sussex Police with a report presented at the meeting looking at the pressures the force are facing.

The commissioner’s report gave information about changes to the Police funding formula and the possible impact this could have in Sussex.

With police funding nationally expected to fall by up to 40 per cent, members were keen to know what impact the changes could have on frontline services within the county.

They were told more detail would be known in November and December and the commissioner would report back in early 2016.

Cllr Watson reminded the panel of the working group, which considered the financial planning regularly.

“This is an interim report and we will get more detail and have more opportunity to scrutinise this, but it is extremely useful to have this report as an indicator and a guide to show us where we are heading,” he said.

A webcast of the meeting is available at www.eastsussex.gov.uk/webcast.

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