Charity warns cuts are putting lives at risk on the roads
LIVES are being put at risk due to cuts in funding for road safety, according to a leading charity.
Kent County Council has been identified as a key offender, after slashing £1.5 million from its budget last year.
The authority, which has responsibility for the majority of Kent's roads, has blamed the Government for reducing grants for safety measures.
Research by the Institute of Advanced Motorists has found Kent County Council cut its budget from £7.1 million in 2010/11 to £5.6 million last year – a drop of 21 per cent.
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This outstripped the average reduction in England of 15 per cent.
In total, £23 million was cut by councils across the country.
The institute said services such as safe routes to school schemes, school crossing patrols, training for young drivers and rehabilitation courses for motoring offenders were all scaled back.
Chief executive Simon Best said: "Cutting road safety so hard makes no sense.
"The average wage of a lollipop lady is £3,000 a year, while the cost of each road fatality is £1.6 million, so the returns on investment are huge.
"Cuts of this scale risk lives as well as the UK's table-topping status as the best in the world for road safety."
He called on the Government to bring back casualty reduction targets to force councils to make road safety a priority.
But the council hit back, pointing out the number of serious road casualties in its area continued to fall, with 519 recorded last year, compared with 545 in 2010 and 629 in 2009.
Spokesman Kirsty Russell said: "While the pressure on budgets and the need to deliver savings continues, the council recognises the importance of targeted funding to improve safety on Kent roads.
"The council has allocated an extra £1 million to be spent on additional crash remedial measures in 2012/13 to contribute to the continuing year-on-year reduction in road casualties on Kent's roads – down by 5 per cent in 2011 compared with the previous year."
Ms Russell added the majority of the reduction was related to the cut in the government grant for safety cameras, which now comes under the remit of Kent Police.