Roadshow for students to help reduce deaths and serious injuries on West Sussex roads faces axe

A Safe Drive Stay Alive roadshow in 2016. Picture: Eddie Mitchell SUS-160311-150116001
A Safe Drive Stay Alive roadshow in 2016. Picture: Eddie Mitchell SUS-160311-150116001

A hard-hitting roadshow targeted at young people aiming to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on West Sussex roads faces being axed by the county council.

Safe Drive Stay Alive is for 16-18-year-old students who are either already driving or learning to drive.

The show combines narrative film footage of a group of teenagers whose journey ends in tragedy with real life stories brought bravely to the stage by those people whose lives have been changed forever by a car crash.

However West Sussex County Council is proposing to end the Safe Drive Stay Alive courses as part of cuts to its fire service operations budget in 2019/20.

School education visits, work with local cadets and the National Citizens Service alongside electric blanket testing would also be stopped.

Firebreak, a week-long training programme which sees secondary school students participate in a variety of activities at fire stations looking to encourage them to become positive role models, is also set to end.

The cuts are part of a restructure of intervention and protection team saving a total of £400,000 a year.

The county council is also looking to save £200,000 by reviewing and restructuring the county’s technical rescue unit.

Another £100,000 worth of savings is proposed by reducing the number of posts in the resilience and emergencies team.

Communication with staff and representative bodies has taken place, with formal staff consultation due to start in mid-December.

The proposals are due to be discussed by the county council’s environment, fire and communities select committee on Thursday (December 6). The meeting will be webcast online.

A county council spokesman said: “We value all of our services and have considered very carefully the areas that we have focused on. The reality is we simply do not have the money to continue doing things in the same way as we have been.

“Funding is very tight and like other local authorities around the country we have to make some difficult choices. In some cases this might mean carrying out some of our work in different ways or stopping it completely. Any decisions will only be taken after consultation.

“At this point we are not proposing any changes to our emergency response cover.”

A final decision is expected to be made by officers in January on whether to to proceed with the current or modified proposals.