Responses to our open letter against road deaths

Filed under: General

On Friday 26 January 2024, we sent an open letter to city and regional leaders, setting out several challenges for authorities to go faster and reduce the opportunity for further deaths on our roads. We have now received replies from all recipients, which are published on this page.

Response from Councillors John Cotton and Liz Clements, Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Transport

“We agree with Better Streets for Birmingham that the number of people killed and seriously injured on our roads is unacceptable and this needs to change. That is why earlier this month, Birmingham City Council launched a consultation on a new Road Harm Reduction Strategy aimed at tackling this serious issue. The strategy, in line with the Birmingham Transport Plan, renews and reinforces the council’s commitment to Vision Zero – an approach that aims to eliminate deaths and serious injury through reducing the number and speed of motor vehicles on local streets, instead creating safer spaces to walk and cycle. The consultation is online at Road Harm Reduction Strategy consultation and runs until 5 April 2024. We would urge citizens to take part in this consultation and offer their support.”

Councillor John Cotton, Leader of Birmingham City Council and Councillor Liz Clements, Cabinet Member for Transport

Councillor Liz Clements added via X/Twitter that the Council is proceeding with a Traffic Regulation Order statutory consultation for making most roads a consistent 30mph. This is the next step in the delivery process.

Councillor Clements also added that the Council is working with West Midlands local authorities, Transport for West Midlands and West Midlands Police to expand average speed enforcement with the Council pushing hard.

Further to this, Birmingham Connected – Birmingham City Council’s transport planning team – responded to our challenges via X/Twitter:

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands

Andy Street sent his response as a PDF. A text version is available below for people using assistive technology.

Dear Martin and Mat,

Thank you for your letter on the important issue of road deaths in Birmingham. I wanted to provide you with a full response given the importance of the issue.

No death on our region’s roads is acceptable. Dangerous driving blights communities and I’m determined to tackle it; but to do so we will need to use every tool available to us and for all partners to work effectively together on this. I am determined to deliver the recently launch Refreshed Road Safety Strategy 2023-2030 and we are very pleased that Better Streets for Birmingham are directly involved in the development of the associated Road Safety Action Plan 2024-2030 via Transport for West Midlands.

I am also pleased you recognise that progress has been made through partnership working of which Better Streets for Birmingham has provided robust and welcome challenge on. I know that you have been in touch regularly with my Cycling & Walking Commissioner and have been updated on progress and opportunities for collaboration.

With regards to your specific challenges, please see my comments below:

1. Ahead of the mayoral election, we challenge the West Midlands Mayoral candidates to commit to prioritising road safety policing.

One word – Absolutely.

Under my leadership the WMCA currently engages with the Police on a regular basis to work towards improvements in how the laws can be enforced, as well as ensuring their active contribution as part of the Road Safety Partnership. The present focus is on a new model for average speed enforcement and improving the effectiveness of third-party reporting.

You will also be aware that I convened the original meeting last year that brought renewed police attention to this issue, and I am pleased to see the initial success with the use of dashcam reporting.

Therefore as Mayor – hopefully with Police & Crime Commissioner responsibilities as I have publicly set out – I will continue to prioritise road safety and roads policing. I have seen first-hand the difference robust roads policing can make on disrupting the crime that blights communities, as well as keeping all road users safe. More detail on how I will tackle road crime to a level that meets the challenges of road violence in the region will be detailed in my upcoming Crime Plan.

2. We challenge the Mayor of the West Midlands to establish a multi-agency working group for Operations Close Pass, Hercules, Park Safe, Snap and Triton that meets regularly to monitor progress and effectiveness against measurable targets. Let’s aim to reduce deaths and serious injuries by a third every 3 years, to stay on track for Vision Zero by 2041.

I agree that monitoring progress on activities, actions and casualty figures is vital and plays an important role in understanding progress towards Vision Zero. Your question also highlights the value in combining the Mayoralty with the Police & Crime Commissioner role. I intend to bring about benefits from linking Policing operations with other important parts of my responsibility, including the region’s £1.05billion CRSTS transport investment. To crack this, we need to combine enforcement with engineering, making our roads safer, speeds self-enforcing and more suited to walking and cycling. As you saw last summer with my approach of convening multi-agency partners, I believe this to be effective and will continue to lead on this important issue.

3. We challenge West Midlands Combined Authority and Birmingham City Council to direct highways maintenance funding towards retrofitting streets to Safe System and Healthy Streets standards, making them safe for walking and cycling.

The WMCA cannot direct Birmingham City Council where to invest their highways maintenance funding. The highways maintenance plans of all our local authorities, including Birmingham, are evidence-led based on road condition surveys which helps to determine where investment should be targeted. That said, however, we are going through a period of change shaped by our longer-term funding settlement. This gives the WMCA the opportunity to further support and influence the long-term highways maintenance plans, linking in with our overall goals to prioritise walking, cycling and public transport, and I fully intend to do this.

To reiterate, I am absolutely committed to creating a safe road environment in our region. I know my team at the WMCA are also very pleased with the developing relationship with Better Streets for Birmingham and other community groups. Thank you, again, for the work you are doing to reduce harm on our roads.

4. We challenge Birmingham City Council specifically to deliver on its measures announced in response to our June 2023 open letter: a. deliver 30mph speed reductions by this April. b. deliver 6 average speed cameras by the end of this year

Speed limits are a matter for the highway authority, Birmingham City Council, but I am supportive of these changes

I am firmly committed to increasing average speed enforcement in Birmingham and, indeed, across the region and this work has started via the WMCA. I have instructed this to happen at pace and I get regular updates on progress. It is important and fair that you get the full picture, so I will come back to you specifically on the timelines involved.

Yours sincerely

Andy Street
Mayor of the West Midlands

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands

Richard Parker, Labour’s candidate for West Midlands Mayor

“I fully support ‘Better Streets for Birmingham’ in their campaign. The number of people killed and seriously injured on Birmingham’s roads is totally unacceptable.

As Mayor, I’ll work with Birmingham City Council and West Midlands Police to reduce the numbers of deaths and injuries. This is a serious issue which requires community engagement, political will and immediate action.

I look forward to meeting with Better Streets for Birmingham to discuss how a Labour Mayor, alongside a Labour Government, will find innovate new solutions to tackle this awful problem and I’ll share my plans to make immediate progress and deliver change.”

Richard Parker, Labour’s candidate for West Midlands Mayor
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Better Streets for Birmingham

Better Streets for Birmingham is a community group which campaigns for changes to our travel and planning infrastructure to improve the sustainability, efficiency and safety of our streets. We believe that through connecting Birmingham to reduce car dependency, we will make it a more pleasant place to work, live and play.