A Dorset councillor said he was “shocked” to discover the general budget for Dorset's road safety team is just 50k a year.

Cllr Nick Ireland, who is also chairman of Osmington Parish Council, was liaising with Tony Burden, road safety manager for Dorset Council, about safety related speed limit changes.

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During email conversations, it was revealed that the general budget held by Mr Burden was £50,000 per year to cover the whole county.

The budget focuses on areas of the county with the greatest risk such as collision cluster sites, and locations identified as high risk through community engagement or police liaison. 

Cllr Nick Ireland described how he was “shocked” to hear about the budget figure which he said appears to be such a “small amount” to deal with road safety concerns in the area.

He said: “It was a shock to everybody and a shock when I first found out. I think things really need to change and improve. I think the amount needs to be multiplied by at least ten and it seems such a small amount - only £50,000.

“Historically we have a huge backlog in getting to make safety changes such as putting in double yellow lines. In the days of Dorset County Council there were huge backlogs and the reason proposed was the cost of doing them is too high.”

According to Cllr Ireland, key road safety concerns, particularly around Osmington but also relevant to Dorset as a whole, are cars speeding in 30mph limit areas and crashes - including the stretch between Osmington and Poxwell - which he described as a "hotspot". 

He also highlighted how highway maintenance continues to be a source of concern as the local authority is reliant on central government funding to resolve issues such as flooding due to blocked drains. 

Even after news that Dorset Council will receive an extra £2.068 million each for the next two years to repair Dorset's roads, Cllr Ireland says it doesn't tackle the issue how road safety as a whole is "chronically underfunded."

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A spokesperson from Dorset Council said: “While our Road Safety Manager does hold a budget of £50,000, it’s important to clarify this isn’t the overall Dorset Council budget for road safety itself. This is our budget for minor works like signs, lines, and community speed limit reduction requests.

“Road safety forms an integral part of all our work when maintaining or building our highways and this is funded from a number of budgets."

The budgets mentioned by the council include high priority 20mph applications, appropriate type of road surfacing installations, skid resistance surveys, winter gritting, inspecting structures to maintain their safety, maintaining and introducing traffic signals and pedestrian crossings and ensuring third party works are carried out safely.

The council also stressed the importance of working closely with Dorset Police and town and parish councils, to deploy speed indicator devices, provide a school crossing patrol service and delivering services that can positively influence road safety.