Law puts skids under council
HUNDREDS of thousands of pounds may have to be spent on improving safety on North Somerset's roads because of new Government legislation coming into force next Spring. From April 2008 the Government is introducing a new Corporate Manslaughter and Corporat
HUNDREDS of thousands of pounds may have to be spent on improving safety on North Somerset's roads because of new Government legislation coming into force next Spring.From April 2008 the Government is introducing a new Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act which will cover cases of death on the road.The new legislation will mean that if it can be proved that the anti skid surfacing on the authority's main routes does not come up to standard, the authority could be held liable.More than 98 kilometres of the district's principal roads are surveyed each year by the authority and all of the B-road network, a total of 81 kilometres, is surveyed every two years.Now the level of anti skid surfacing is to be assessed to see if it meets criteria laid down by the Government.Roads which are found not to reach the standard will have to undergo specialist treatment - work that could run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.North Somerset Council executive member for strategic planning, highways and economic development Elfan Ap Rees said: "We have to be seen to be aware of the risk and doing something about it. We need to look at the anti skid surfacing on our roads on a priority basis and will be effectively doing a risk assessment on all the main routes in the area and those roads which are the busiest."This will not mean all will have to be upgraded as many may already have anti skid surfacing."The council has to be sure that if an action did come forward as a result of the new legislation, it can defend it." The council is currently reviewing all of its services in a bid to shave cash off budgets in light of a £17million shortfall in Government funding over the next two years. But Cllr Ap Rees said the authority was not planning on cutting any of the money it spends on road maintenance.Cllr Ap Rees added: "We have money within our roads maintenance budget and will do this work when funding allows."We are looking at our budgets for next year but already have made it quite clear that we do not intend to reduce the amount of money for road maintenance."This is work that has to be done."So far this year there have been six fatal accidents on North Somerset's roads.