I wasn’t going to start a blog now, although I almost did last year when I became increasingly disgusted with the way our local council was wasting our money and the wife kept telling me that it was no good complaining to her, find someone else to complain to!
What finally wound me up was one particular road improvement. An ordinary roundabout, feeding two side roads into a rural A road that suffered a bit of congestion at peak times from a large local employer. Instead of a relatively simple, cost effective, non-intrusive change, maybe the addition of an extra queue lane or slip lane, we ended up with 6 months of delays with multi-way traffic lights and closed roads. Now we enjoy a section of what can best be described as a 3 lane motorway doughnut. It must be the only 200 yard stretch of such road in the country that rarely has more than one car on it! The problem, and reason for my frustration, is that there are many dangerous bends and junctions further along the road and the huge amount of cash spent on that one roundabout could have significantly improved safety and convenience at many of them.
Except of course it wouldn’t. Reading other blogs and thinking deeper I began to realise that local authorities, and indeed government funded bodies in general, don’t do simple cost effective solutions any more. They do schemes. Each of which has to be debated, costed, budgeted, and planned then designed according to methods and guidelines imposed by ‘superior’ authorities.
Whether the guidelines emanate from our regional Westminster admin centre or the EU bureaucracy, you can be sure many have little relevance or suitability for the work being undertaken. Then of course work has to be carried out by a company who have tendered, ticked all the corporate boxes, demonstrated their diversity, lack of discrimination, conformity with health and safety and have swapped the vehicle fleet for Toyota Prius to reduce carbon usage. As a consequence they have to charge many times the cost had a local Bob the Builder been able to offer a price.
So with the realisation that the problem might not be down to a deficit of intelligence in our local councillors, maybe not the road engineers either, the explanation is a fundamental problem with the way the country is being administered. I shall be exploring this dysfunctionality as an occasional and possibly intermittent topic, although I get grumpy at all sorts of other stuff too.