FLASHING speed signs are being delayed from going up on Lancashire roads because of health and safety 'rules'.

More than 30 speed indicator display (SpID) signs, which show drivers their speed sometimes with a smiley or sad face depending on their reading, are being delayed because police say they cannot teach council staff how to climb ladders to put them up.

The police took responsibility for recharging batteries and moving the signs to different stretches of road when six were first bought by Lancashire county council.

Now, the SpIDs have become so popular, with 20 installed across the county, that police say they can no longer be responsible for them and parish councils are set to take over.

But the police say that their officers are not trained to teach others how to use ladders in order to erect the signs.

A procedure review by Lancashire County Council found its staff need extra training to climb ladders to do the job.

County councillor Tony Martin, cabinet member for sustainable development, said that signs were now "languishing in village halls" rather than helping to make roads safer.

And the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) said that the problem needed to be sorted out as soon as possible.

In a report to the county council's Lancashire Local committees, environment directorate officer Alan Cox said police were unable to train others to climb, despite only needing to be around three or four feet above the ground.

Officers are also now investigating whether the job of mounting the signs needs more than one person.

PC Ian Ashton, of Lancashire's central road policing unit, said: "We are now governed by working height regulations which mean that anyone who is using a ladder needs to undergo ladder training.

"Our officers who deal with the signs at the moment have had that training, but they are not able to train others."

Peter Andrews, environment directorate manager at the county council, said he was setting up talks with the fire and rescue service to see if they could help.

He said: "We have more chance of the firefighters being able to give the train-ing and are hoping they will help.

"Until then, we won't be able to get any new signs up and running because we have to make sure people are safe and within the law.

"It is not a decision we have taken lightly but we have to make sure people are properly trained because there is an element of risk."

County Councillor Tony Martin, cabinet member for sustainable development, said he was very disappo-inted that the police had decided to "abdicate responsibility" for the SpIDs, now the scheme had taken off, after they asked for the responsibility in the first place. He said: "When the first ones came out the police were very insistent that they wanted to install them and be responsible for charging them up.

"Now there're more than three in the county they want rid of the responsibility as soon as they can.

"We are now in the situation where we have quite a few of these that have been bought and are now languishing in village halls."

Roger Vincent, a spokesperson for Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said: "Road safety measures can save lives if they persuade motorists to slow down and keep within the speed limits.

"If there is a proven problem in these areas then this issue needs to be sorted out as soon as possible."

County Coun Martin said he would be asking for a report to be done to see how the county council could resolve the issue.

He said it might be possible for county council engineers to fit the SpIDs using cherry pickers.

A spokesperson for the Lancashire Road Safety Partnership welcomed the involvement of the parish councils in the erection of the signs, but added: "If the site needs a risk assessment health and safety guidelines must be followed."