Council defends decision to merge road groups

Winchester jail put in special measures

POOR attendance has been blamed for the merging of several road safety groups.

Hampshire County Council will cut the number of road safety councils it runs from 11 to three.

Gosport, Fareham and Havant currently have their own bodies to identify ways of making roads in their area less dangerous.

They are made up of residents, councillors, police and the fire service.

But from June, the three groups will merge with Eastleigh to form a council for southern Hampshire.

'On average, just 50 per cent of the total membership was regularly attending meetings,' said Councillor Mel Kendal, who is in charge of environment matters for Hampshire County Council.

'We therefore carried out a more detailed review of the road safety councils.

'The outcome of this, together with consideration of the budget pressures for local authorities and major cuts to the road safety grant, resulted in the proposal to merge the 11 road safety councils.

'Road safety will continue to be a priority for the county council but it is imperative we carry out this function efficiently and cost effectively.'

Cllr Kendal said attendance will continue to be monitored to 'evaluate the viability' of keeping the safety councils and to ensure the new format boosts membership.

Joyce Upperton, former chairman and member of the Gosport road safety council for 20 years, said: 'I think this will make attendance drop off.

'With petrol getting more expensive, you're going to think twice about driving round to Havant for a meeting.

'We have worked hard to make a difference in our areas.'