By Daniel Hunter

Councils across the country are having to cut their budgets to the bone - and even beyond - which means accidents are simply waiting to happen. That's the warning from Michael Slade, Managing Director of health and safety specialists Bibby Consulting & Support.

Many local authorities have made massive cuts to services in the last year in order to meet spending targets - but even more savings are expected over the coming months. One council source told Slade "We have cut as much as we possibly can; there is nothing left to cut".

"Something will have to give and it's likely to be quality which is compromised," Slade said.

"Health and Safety inspections are one area that authorities have chosen to save money, but if they cut back any more it will present a real danger to the public and put businesses at risk.

"There's a ticking timebomb here because if care homes, hotels, takeaways and restaurants get fewer inspections, the minor risks, which inspectors would normally identify will so easily go unnoticed. That is until they escalate to something much bigger such as injuries or even fatalities."

Slade also warns that councils that make cuts to services such as keeping grass verges short and cutting back bushes are themselves creating a risk for the public.

"Bushes full of nettles and thorns are now encroaching on to pavements and people, some with toddlers, are being forced to walk closer to the edge of paths and closer to busy roads," Slade says. "In many cases drivers can't see traffic approaching crucial islands, such as Junction 13 of the M6, without being forced to edge forward into oncoming traffic.

"We recognise the need for organisations, council's included, to make cut backs, but this should not be in areas where the cut creates a risk for the public. Maybe a closer look at expense polices is a better place to start."

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