Monday, September 19, 2005

Highway Robbery.

Was on the road again last night. Normally leave at 09:00 on a Monday morning and get there for 10:40 to 11:00 at the worst but wanted to be there for 8:30 today. Remember that it was a Sunday yesterday. Left Chester at 18:30 for an hour and a half drive to Birmingham and got stuck in heavy traffic for over an hour and a half. Arrived in Birmingham at 21:10. What a nightmare. My phone bill will be horrendous as I called loads of different people and got embroiled in a text messaging session that brought to an end a chapter of my life.

Anyway, last night while I was watching the ITV 50th anniversary on the TV I was thinking about my meeting today with politics and hidden agendas and it made me think about the chaos in the UK’s roads.

Take into consideration that the motorist pays car tax every year. He pays tax on the fuel he uses and heavy fines for every time he breaks the law. His input to the treasury cannot be matched by any other single special interest group. On the reverse the investment in roads and roadworks is at it’s lowest in years. This investment is mainly making two lanes one, speed bumps, roundabouts etc. it also covers damage caused by roads in disrepair. I don’t see many new roads unless there is a new building plot around and this causes a reevaluation of the road speeds around that area downwards. Can you imagine the uproar if that was done to any other group? Excluding smokers, of course.

Plus, as an aside, can someone tell me why these road planners have degrees and other higher qualifications. Surely we can have a GCSE in speed bumps. It can't be that difficult. There seems to be very little else required for their toolkit.

Well, the conclusion I came to was simple.
The Government wants to keep spending to a minimum and only releases a fraction of the income from motorists to motoring’s benefit.
The Government also sets targets to local authorities regarding their spend, which includes road spend, and a budget. Any significant road building exercise cannot be met by local authorities and is likely to involve more than one authority anyway.
Local authorities have their own agendas of reducing road speeds and reducing spend on roads.

So we have an agenda of reducing new roads to a minimum. The plan is to leave that to a future Government.
We have an understanding in both Government and local authorities that states we cannot build out way out of trouble from the 1970s. Are we sure?, maybe it needs looking at again.
We have a policy of a fixed budget for road works in an authority. Rightly so, but why so low and none specifically for new roads or real improvements?
We have a policy of planning to lower speed limits across all roads. We need consideration and not just politics on this.
We have politicians spending on pedestrian schemes and pay car parks and calling it road works.
We have the usual bureaucracy inefficiencies wasting money on vote wining areas.

It is about time we had an independent review of the entire motoring area in the UK with no hidden agendas looking at what we can do to improve the plight of the motorist and make more effective use of our money.

I pity those people that have to travel these roads every day. Perhaps when you blow up you shouldn’t take it out on the poor motorist stuck next to you. Think about who really causes these issues and get it out of your system. A really stiff letter or Email to the Department of Transport and your local authority should do it. What you really want to do is go and kick some sense into them instead of some poor guy stuck in the same traffic jam as you but that is currently illegal so it's definitely a non starter.


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