Councillor Jo Blackman (Wanstead Village, Labour) discusses speeding and dangerous driving, and invites residents to take part in community roadwatch events with local police
One issue that regularly comes up when we’re talking to residents is the problem of speeding and dangerous driving. Whether it’s motorists going too fast on main roads, ignoring red lights or driving aggressively, it seems we’re all fed up with feeling unsafe on our roads.
Redbridge Council can play a role in making roads safer by installing infrastructure like speed humps and a raised crossing, and we have recently consulted on introducing a number of measures to slow traffic on the High Street and other roads across Wanstead. School Streets zones that limit non-residential traffic close to schools can also help keep children safe and are working well at a number of local schools, including Wanstead Church School.
However, the council’s budget is under significant pressure and is subject to competing demands across the borough. Historically, TfL has provided much of the funding for councils to implement road safety measures. TfL is currently in negotiations with the government regarding future funding. Any settlement is unlikely to restore TfL’s funding to previous levels, nor provide councils with the funds needed to undertake all the road safety interventions necessary across the borough.
We know that enforcement is crucial too. A recent Panorama programme highlighted how a failure to reduce road deaths over the past decade is linked to a cut in the number of dedicated traffic police officers. Too many dangerous drivers have been able to continue without fear of being caught. Police numbers are set to increase, but it’s still unclear how many of those will be dedicated to policing our roads.
In Wanstead Village, we’ve asked the police’s local Safer Neighbourhoods Team to focus on dangerous driving. We are organising meetings for residents with the police where we know there are persistent problems to help highlight the need for more rigorous policing. We have also been told that specific police operations are being undertaken to target problem areas. And we have asked the police to restart community roadwatch events, where the police team up with volunteers to identify speeding motorists who are then issued with a warning letter, which can be effective at encouraging compliance. New technology can help too. As more drivers have dashcams, the footage is being used by police to prosecute dangerous drivers and can be uploaded via the police’s website for them to follow up.
Let’s hope the threat of police action, combined with road safety measures where feasible, will help make our streets safer.
To volunteer for community roadwatch events, email CommunityRoadwatch@met.police.uk