3 March 2000

Safety first to cut rural road death toll – CPRE

ROAD safety must be prioritised by government if rural road deaths are to be cut, says the Council for the Protection of Rural England.

The CPRE is calling for a Safer Villages Toolkit as one of its Countryside Pays proposals submitted to Downing Street.

It calls for entrance signs and interactive speed response signs in all 16,000 villages with less than 3000 people, backed up by extra video cameras and a national Rural Kill Your Speed campaign.

The roads package, costing £180m, forms a key part of the £800 proposal which includes demands for an integrated bus network in every county.

It also highlights a need for the provision of 10,000 affordable rural homes each year, an overhaul of the planning system and the provision of computer and internet facilities in villages.

&#42 Important asset

"The countryside is one of the nations most important assets," says Tony Burton, CPREs assistant director. "This vital resource and the benefits it brings the whole nation need to feature more strongly in the governments spending priorities. Proper investment in a living, working and more beautiful countryside will pay real dividends in the future."

But the CPREs proposal to raise cash by upping fuel duty have met criticism from the Country Landowners Association. "Cars are more of a necessity than a luxury in rural areas," said a CLA spokesperson.

"Any increase in fuel costs will add to the burden of people living in the countryside and could increase isolation. Now is not a good time to add to the burdens on farming with fuel increases either."