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"Communications" with Martin Baker, Team Leader, Road Safety, Poole

Latest at the top, read from bottom up to see the whole discussion. I will add any further discussion (if Martin Baker responds) in a new page.

Sent: Friday, April 08, 2011 7:04 AM
Subject: Simple questions for Mr Baker

Dear Mr Baker,
 
1. Do you accept, that if Poole Council, Police, DRS, TAG, etc, etc. believe that speed cameras reduce KSI by 20-25%, then it is seriously irresponsible for them to have closed a highly profitable speed camera for the reason of cost cutting (Holes Bay), both in terms of road safety, and financial efficiency?
 
2. Why have you (with your lack of research knowledge on road safety) decided to totally side with the pro-camera argument, when there is SO MUCH public disgust with speed cameras, simple common sense suggest they provide freedom for determined speeders to do what they want on 99.9% of road space, and I have made you aware of many years of bad behavior at DSCP / DRS, which not even DSCP / DRS have challenged?
 
3. Do you accept that errors of such magnitude (including everything else I've made you aware of) can only result in higher road deaths, serious injuries and wasted resources, than there would be if the right decisions were being made? Does this matter to you, because it matters to me and the public, and that is why the protest will continue, until we see credible explanations or corrections.
 
Regards, Ian Belchamber
 

Dear Mr Baker,
 
Thank you for demonstrating, probably better than even I could, how the over complicated, bureaucratic, council and associated organisations manage to come up with such wasteful, damaging, dangerous decisions in total conflict with simple common sense. I am astonished that you, the Team Leader of Road Safety on Poole, can be satisfied with such a situation.
 
I am also astonished that someone in your position admits to having no expertise / research knowledge in road safety but relies instead on other organisations without even considering the counter argument, or that those organisations may have interests other than road safety in keeping cameras going (profit from courses, etc).
 
This simply adds to my concerns that Poole (and Dorset) is seriously off track with road safety, as is confirmed by the poor performance indicated by the references I have mentioned.
 
This is not a trivial matter, it involves people's lives and the use of critical resources, and you have confirmed that the large numbers of people and organisations involved are not working on a best overall combination of resources to deliver the best overall solutions, far from it.
 
If even now you can't see the problem, here it is in the simplest way I can put it:
 
According to Dorset Council:
    -speed cameras reduce deaths and serious injuries by 20-25%
    -the Holes Bay Road camera therefore not only reduces deaths and serious injuries by 20-25% but also provides huge income, which could keep perhaps another 5 of the cameras that will be turned off, running, providing more deterrent, income and saved lives, or could be used to fund other road safety activities, no excuses, etc.
 
Only A COMPLETE BUNCH OF IDIOTS, if they believe cameras save lives, would turn off the Holes Bay camera just to save money. Can you see it yet?
 
I'm sorry you don't want to debate any further, therefore I have recopied the main list, but I am happy to hear from anyone who has any other suggestions about how to get some half-sensible (at least) thinking on road safety in Poole / Dorset.
 
And if anyone knows the REAL reasons the camera has been shut down, I'd like to know.
 
Regards, Ian Belchamber
 

From: Martin Baker
Sent: Wednesday, April 06, 2011 1:30 PM
Subject: RE: questions

Dear Mr Belchamber

It is clear from the TAG report that  :

·        The only funding Poole has available to contribute to Camera Operation is from a much reduced Area Based Grant.

·        TAG has agreed that funding should be concentrated only at the top 5 sites with the greatest potential for casualty reduction.

I’m afraid I have little to add to my previous responses on this subject and I can see no benefit in debating this matter further.

Regards

Martin Baker

From: Ian Belchamber (gmail) [mailto:ianbelchamber@gmail.com]
Sent: 06 April 2011 12:48
To: Martin Baker
Subject: Re: questions

Dear Mr Baker,

I can't really believe this discussion is happening. The inability of TAG / Poole / DRS etc. to consider the funding contribution of a camera, in setting remaining camera counts based on the same funding, if this is what you are suggesting, is beyond belief and worrying in the extreme (although I have to say consistent with expectations).

It is understood that (if cameras save lives) a difficult compromise must be found where the income from a camera does not cover it's cost. But, if cameras save lives, and at the same time contribute to road safety funds which might save even more lives, it's a no-brainer, it is seriously irresponsible of the council both in terms of saving life and financial efficiency, to shut the camera down. 

Has the Council / Tag / DRS been seriously irresponsible, or has it been lying about the reason? It's one or the other.

Regards, Ian Belchamber. 

 

 

From: Martin Baker

Sent: Wednesday, April 06, 2011 12:13 PM

Subject: RE: questions

Dear Mr Belchamber

The TAG report makes it clear but just to clarify further (my emphasis), item 3.4 (a) states:

“Continued operation and rotation of 10 to 15 camera units at the 15 top ranking fixed speed camera sites (based on number of collisions) throughout Dorset (5 in Poole)”.

Regards

Martin Baker

From: Ian Belchamber (gmail) [mailto:ianbelchamber@gmail.com]
Sent: 06 April 2011 10:33
To: Martin Baker
Subject: Re: questions

Dear Mr Baker,

I have further comments which I will make later, but I must press you on point 1: How on earth can there be any financial benefit in closing the Holes Bay Road camera? It pays for itself many times over! Based on what you have said, this camera can only do good - the limit is correct, it will reduce KSI by 20-25%, AND it even provides critical financial income for other cameras / road safety activities!

So WHY ON EARTH has this camera, probably the only camera that actually doesn't cost anything on balance to run, been shut down?

It makes sense to reduce numbers of cameras that don't pay for themselves, but not that do, if "sufficient funds" is the reason. 

Regards, Ian Belchamber

Sent: Wednesday, April 06, 2011 9:13 AM
Subject: RE: questions

Dear Mr Belchamber 

While I am able to respond in this instance I simply do not have the time or resources needed to respond promptly each time or in more detail to all of your queries. This is mainly due to the fact that our department has had to bear its own share of the recent government cutbacks.

In terms of undertaking any research, therefore, I certainly do not have sufficient resources to carry out my own detailed investigations, so I have to rely on the likes of other trusted road safety organisations such as the DfT, TRL, IAM or RAC Foundation for this area of work. Please see my comments in below against each of your queries.

1.    As is made clear in the 31 March 2011 TAG report, Councils do not have sufficient funds to maintain the current level of enforcement or maintenance of all sites, hence we have decided to concentrate on the current ‘top 15’ sites across Dorset, Poole and Bournemouth. It is unlikely that the level of funding will increase in the foreseeable future, but it could be that the top 15 list changes from time to time to suit operational requirements.

 

2.    Again, as I stated in my previous email, TAG Members are happy with the current 30mph; they have been made aware of all the issues and so I do not intend to re-open the debate. This is a link to the TAG report for information: http://ha2.boroughofpoole.com/committeedocuments/agendas_minutes_reports_get_file.asp?f=%2Fcommitteepdf%2Freport%2Ftransportation+advisory+group%2Ftag251120103+motion+%2D+holes+bay+road%2Edoc%2Epdf

 

3.    As I mentioned above I have to rely on research by other organisations as I do not have the resources to conduct my own. There are a number of pieces of research on the effectiveness of speed cameras and here is a link to the most recent one that certainly I am aware of: http://www.racfoundation.org/assets/rac_foundation/content/downloadables/speed%20camera%20effectiveness%20-%20allsop%20-%20report.pdf. I am aware that the Association of British Drivers may have dismissed this report out of hand but I am more inclined to accept the findings of a trusted road safety organisation in this case.

4.    I would refer you to both the RAC report for cameras above and the TRL report for the relative effectiveness of VAS/SIDs: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/effectiveness-of-SIDs.pdf

The RAC report indicates that cameras have a typical KSI reduction effect of around 20-25% and the TRL research suggests that a 5.6% in collisions may be expected where SIDs are used.

 

5.    In the TAG report referred to in Item 1, I have indicated which sites in Poole which will continue to receive enforcement and maintenance. As I mentioned in my previous email I am not able to comment or reply on matters which are not the responsibility of the Borough and this obviously includes camera sites for which Bournemouth or Dorset’s are responsible.

Regards

Martin Baker
Road Safety Team Leader

From: Ian Belchamber (gmail) [mailto:ianbelchamber@gmail.com]
Sent: 06 April 2011 07:48
To: Martin Baker
Subject: Re: questions

Dear Mr Baker,

Could you give me some indication if you will be answering these points, and if so, when?

Thanks, Ian Belchamber

Sent: Thursday, March 31, 2011 3:31 PM

Subject: Re: questions

Thanks for the prompt response. I may have some more questions when I read through it in more detail but just a couple of things:

1. So am I right, the Holes Bay Road camera will be shut down because only 15 cameras will remain active at the highest accident locations, and Holes Bay isn't one of them? And if funding were to increase, the camera could be switched on again? If it is the case that all speeding is bad, and should be penalised, surely this is a bad decision as the substantial income from this camera could keep several others running? Or is all speeding not bad?

2. On the point about the 30 limit on Holes Bay, can you actually answer the question, is the council aware that the 30 limit on Holes Bay is entirely inconsistent with other roads, and explain the 2 apparent discrepancies I have mentioned as examples?

3. On the conclusion 8.1 in the doc you attached, please can you detail to me the evidence and reasoning that has resulted in each of these conclusions.

4. Can you detail the live saving expectations of a speed camera, and a VAS, and also let me know the cost of each.

5. Can you let me know the full list of top ranking sites, for example, 15 locations will have speed cameras (rotated), but only the top 5 are shown in the doc.

Thanks, Ian Belchamber

From: Martin Baker

Sent: Thursday, March 31, 2011 2:48 PM

Subject: RE: questions

Dear Mr Belchamber

In response to your email I attach a copy of a report which is being presented to our Transportation Advisory Group (TAG) meeting which is being held at 7.30pm tonight in the Civic Centre.

The TAG report hopefully addresses the majority of the points/queries you have raised.

This is a publicly available document and the meeting tonight is also open to members of the public so you are free to attend to hear the various debates if you so wish. The report contains information, not opinion – it is up to Members to express their opinions at the meeting and vote for or against the recommendations at the end of the debate.

As you will see the primary reason for the scaling back of operations is purely a financial one; with less grant available from the government for camera operations and maintenance there was no alternative.

The 30mph limit on Holes Bay Road has been considered by TAG on at least two separate occasions – most recently on 25 November 2010 – and Members agreed with the officer recommendation that this limit is appropriate and is in accordance with DfT guidance. There are no plans to reopen this debate again.

Regards

Martin Baker

Team Leader Road Safety

Borough of Poole

 

Dear Mr Baker,
 
It's a bit difficult to know where to start, there are years of unanswered questions, but I'll try a few recent ones:
 
-What exactly is the status of the Speed on green camera on the Holes Bay Road? A recent news item suggested it would be closed on the 1st April, due to "funding cuts", but this doesn't make any sense at all, this camera was making huge amounts of money. Will it be closed and what are the REAL reasons, and if these are not financial, who released the misinformation?  http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/news/districts/poole/8897545.Controversial_cam_set_to_be_scrapped/ . If they are financial, please detail how much will be saved and how this has been calculated.
 
-Is the council aware that the 30 limit on Holes Bay is entirely inconsistent with other roads, for example:
-- busy residential streets with the same limit, for example the road that runs up the other side of Holes Bay, through Hamworthy, narrow single lane road with many houses and shops right on the road, a library, school, pubs and massive pedestrian / cyclist flow in and out of sunseeker and the port every day, a bridge too narrow to take HGVs in both directions at the same time, etc etc.
-- less safe positions with much higher limits, like the 50 limit through the busy PC World commercial area, with busy shops on both sides of the main road and no proper crossing, or the ped crossing position at the other end of the Holes Bay road near McDonalds, with no lights, on a roundabout, very difficult to cross, with no barriers / lights, etc.
 
-These massive discrepancies are evident all over the county, and make the most extreme such as Holes Bay, unenforceable, and reduce the respect of speed limits in general, and the law.
 
-Why does the council not listen to experts like Jonathan Pearson?, or even DfT guidance?   
 
-What is Poole's contribution to speed cameras in the next financial year (from 1st April 2011?) and how does this compare with the previous year?
 
-How many lives and serious injuries will be saved by this spend and how has this calculation been done, and when was it last done?
 
I'll leave it there for the moment but will obviously have more once these have been answered.
 
Regards, Ian Belchamber
 
 

Dear Mr Baker,

Many thanks for offering to communicate about the concerns the public have about road safety in Dorset.

My reservation is as you point out, road safety involves many different organisations and individuals, and as I have commented probably several times before, all contribute to the overall effect that the public are so concerned about, but in isolation, and avoiding dealing with complaint like the plague.

Also, the whole of the problem is much greater than the sum of its parts, so all this means that trying to resolve the issues with only one reluctant partner is unlikely to be effective, particularly as you are so keen to point out you won’t touch anything not directly under your responsibility.

I naively assumed that Dorset Road Safe was the overall “umbrella” organisation, and would therefore have a proper interface to the public to resolve overall issues, dealing directly with partners as necessary, and ensuring we have the best contributions from each of the partners to achieve the best overall end effects on casualty reduction, with the best overall combination of resources, this is how it should be, but as we now know, nothing could be further from reality. All that Dorset Road Safe is concerned about is it’s own financial viability.

This same lack of coordination / direction that makes it so difficult to communicate is, I believe, one of the main reasons for Dorset’s misguided road safety activities and resulting poor performance, and indicative in itself that we simply don’t have a proper road safety structure.

I will forward some direct concerns to you, which you will probably recognise if you’ve read any of my emails,  but I don’t think the overall situation will improve until the fundamental lack of road safety coordination / structure / direction is corrected.

Regards,

Ian Belchamber