CONCERNS about a threat to road safety were raised by Aberdeenshire council officials yesterday following the establishment of Police Scotland.
A report to the council has revealed that the number of specialist police road safety advisers in the North-east has fallen from ten to two since the national force was created.
The significant reduction in specialist officers has left critical gaps in road safety education in the North-east, officials claimed.
Two people have been killed on Aberdeenshire roads in the past six days.
According to a report to go before the council’s infrastructure services committee, road safety education in Aberdeenshire has been led since the 1980s by the former Grampian Police force working in partnership with the local authorities.
But the new strategic police plan had made no provision to continue the role previously taken by Grampian Police.
Council officials estimate that £200,000 a year would be needed to “bridge the gap in road safety education” and provide a similar level of service to local communities.
Ewan Wallace, Aberdeenshire Council’s head of transportation, said yesterday: “There is currently no provision for this level of expenditure in the council’s approved budget and no funding has been reallocated at a national level to address the service previously provided by Grampian Police.”
He added: “While Aberdeenshire Council continues to work on reducing the numbers of people killed and seriously injured on our roads, we need clarification from Police Scotland on how the gaps in road safety education are to be filled.”
Stephen Archer, the council’s infrastructure services director, said: “The continued role of Police Scotland on road safety education is a matter of ongoing uncertainty and we’d welcome progress on this.
“While we have met current road safety targets, and Aberdeenshire Council leads other Scottish local authorities regarding reductions in the number of people killed, it is not the case for people seriously injured.”
Mr Archer states in his report to the committee: “No detailed discussions have been held with Police Scotland on this matter despite regular requests being made since Spring 2012. It is understood that Aberdeen City and the Moray Council are both now making formal approaches as well, but the continued role of Police Scotland on road safety education is a matter of ongoing uncertainty.”
A council spokeswoman said: “One example of a road safety campaign which has been affected by the transition to Police Scotland is the provision of training to motorcyclists in an effort to cut casualties.”
The committee report says the number of fatal accidents in Aberdeenshire has fallen from a death toll of 26 in 1010 to 14 last year – but the number seriously injured rose from 202 to 204.