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The traffic management service provided by Bristol City Council is fair but has uncertain prospects for improvement...
The traffic management service provided by Bristol City Council is fair but has uncertain prospects for improvement, according to an independent report released today by the Audit Commission.

An inspection team gave the service one star.

Peter Wylie, regional director, Southern Region Inspection, said:

'Although the traffic management service provided by Bristol City Council is fair, much more needs to be done deliver a robust service in the future. As well becoming more user focused, Bristol needs to tackle its organisational, resource and programming issues. If these core weaknesses are challenged and successfully overcome, local people can expect to see a better service develop. However, the Council has more work to do to ensure the weaknesses are overcome.'

The inspection report highlights a number of key strengths:

- Traffic signs, road markings and traffic signals were clear and informative, without being excessive

- A modern, computerised system for co-ordinating traffic signals is in operation and is being developed further

- Clear efforts have been made to allocate priority to different types of road user in accordance with the council's transport plan

However, inspectors also found weaknesses:

- Consultation with the public in influencing the delivery of traffic improvements is not wholly effective

- The priority given to new traffic schemes is not clear and consistent

- New schemes to assist the management of traffic in Bristol have been delayed due to the shortage of staff, despite funding being available

- Response to letters, phone calls and complaints is poor

- There is a lack of an effective performance management system, and there are organisational, resources and programming issues that hinder efficiency

To help the service improve, inspectors made a number of recommendations, including:

- Improve communication with users through, for example, reviewing the system for receipt and distribution of letter and setting more challenging targets for replying to correspondence and enquiries

- Ensure the delivery of projects and schemes is improved and that the resources necessary for the ongoing maintenance of schemes and projects are earmarked

- Amend the improvement plan to enable the council to identify the extent that improvements are achieved over a five-year period

The council's traffic management work is estimated to cost nearly£10m in 2001/02 -£1.2m to pay for day-to-day running of the service (revenue) and£8.5m to pay for specific projects and schemes (capital).

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